Friday, 23 May 2014

monaco

Monaco Grand Prix this weekend.

I'm hoping that it will be a good race.  Monaco is notorious for being difficult to overtake at, but it might also reduce the gap between Mercedes and the other teams so it could be a good race.  Or it could be quite processional.

The BBC only has highlights, but I'll listen on the radio too.

It's also a Bank Holiday weekend.  My only real plan for the day off is to do the final prep for Canada - I need to work out what I'm going to take and buy any last bits.

I'll also try to watch some of the backlog of stuff I've recorded so that there'll be enough space on my PVR for when I'm away.  I think I might need a new PVR - I've had this one a long time and it is quite full of stuff, but even bearing that in mind its behaviour is quite erratic.

It's also not HD and with the BT box having been a bust in terms of HD I think it's probably time I upgraded to a HD box.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

more minis

Chaika - The Coffin Princess

I tend to struggle with fantasy shows.

I don't really know why this is.  I mean, fundamentally, I'm a scientist, but having said that I've no real problem with science being bent to make cool stuff happen.  Though to paraphrase Arthur C Clarke, any sufficiently advanced technology will seem like magic to the less advanced.

I guess it's like the Marvel v's DC question.  In Marvel comics there's a tendency to be Science Fiction (science bent to produce superheroes via mutants or gamma rays or what have you) and in DC there's a tendency to be fantasy ("alien comes to earth and just has super-powers because we say so", "here, have this this magic lamp/ring - it gives you powers").  And I always came down on the science side, rather than the fantasy side.

I guess I also find the repeated re-using of exactly the same things a bit tedious - orc, goblins, elves, paladins, blah, blah, yawns.

I've gone on quite a bit there, but the point is I wasn't expecting to like Chaika, but I've been pleasantly surprised.  It's actually moved up my ranking as later episodes have revealed more of a plot that seems quite interesting and it's hinted at explanations for some of the odder aspects.

In particular, I've found Chaika's staccato way of speaking quite annoying.  I'm guessing I'm supposed to find it cute, but it made little sense to me until we found out something that's probably a bit spoilery to say here, but suggests that there's a reason behind it.


Captain Earth

I want to like Captain Earth more than I do.

It's a giant mech series and is certainly a lot better than Dai Shogun.  The animation is by Bones, who seem to have a surprisingly high number of shows out this season for some reason, and is very nice.

I think the problem is the show can't quite seem to work out what it is.  There are elements that are quite like the old super-fun but super-dumb giant mech shows.  So for example, in order to pilot the mech (which looks eerily like a gundam), the hero has to launch into space on a rocket, which is sort of realistic, but then he passes through a whole series of "assembly stages" in orbit that add on various bits, that each "transform and combine" in a sudden switch to high-tech and cheesiness that's fun, but feels incongruous due to the mixing of real and absurd.

The show has lots of stuff like that, so there's a weirdly high level of fan-service, which is fine in and of itself, but it pops up randomly dispersed among really serious and downbeat scenes.  It makes the fan-service seemed tacked on (and tacky), but also makes the serious-ness seem po-faced.

And the seriousness seems like it's trying too hard to be like Eva, but the writing isn't quite strong enough to pull it off.  It also has lots of design elements that I don't know if they're meant to be tributes or copies or accidental.  For example, there's an overly sensitive half bad guy half good guy... with purple hair, red eyes and they've just given him a dark blue plug suit er I mean pilot's costume.  So it's Kaworu from Eva.

I dunno - it's all just a bit disappointing.


Haikyu!!

Haikyu is actually one of the shows I'd left initially and have since caught up on.

I'd actually been through the shows when I saw there were so many available on crunchyroll this season and had tried to prioritise the ones I thought I'd be more interested in.  As these mini reviews show, many have been quite disappointing (it's actually not been that great a season, in my overall opinion), but this and Baby Steps also show I got my guesses quite wrong.

Along with Baby Steps, this is a sports anime, which I increasingly seem to be a fan of for some reason.  In this case the sport in question is volleyball (the version played indoors on a court, rather than on a beach), which I can't honestly say I know a great deal about.

However, what makes this show is the characters - the main character is the "super genki" type.  He's actually a short-arse, and volleyball tends to favour tall players as the net is set quite high.

Quite a few of the characters fall broadly into types you've seen before - the sour-faced, arrogant, egotistical type, for example.  However, the thing that's been making the show is that it's really about breaking down those character traits.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

a little more... or less, as it were

I weighed in at 20 stone 8 pounds at the weekend, which is another 2 pound loss.

I was a bit surprised by this - it was an okay week, but nothing special.  I did hit my target for walking, but didn't really exceed it, and in terms of eating there were a few extra bits I ate that were a bit naughty.  I therefore figured I'd stay about the same, so a 2 pound loss is good.

I'm not really getting my hopes up, so at minimum if I can lose another pound and keep it off then I will still fit into all my new clothes for the holiday.  I guess if I was to get close to 20 stone that would be the "hopes up" version, but as I say I'm not really thinking that will actually happen.

I've also decided I will not do any walking in the week before we go - well, obviously other than to move about to places I need to be!  But I mean I won't go on any specific walks.  My intention is to try to rest my foot a bit.

However, and trying not to tempt fate, I've actually been doing okay with the foot.  I don't know if it's simply easing naturally or it's a coincidence, but I've been doing some stretching exercises recently and things got better after that.  The specific exercise that seems to have helped is actually one that stretches my Achilles tendon and back of my leg.  It involves leaning into a wall and stretching each leg.

The exercise is recommended on the NHS website, so it's not quackery and it's a stretch you see runner's doing.  The point they made is that the plantar fasciitis thing can actually be made worse because of tight Achilles tendons, which makes sense as it would obviously be making the plantar thing taught.

As I say, I don't want to count any unhatched chickens, and it's still not fixed in the sense that I still get discomfort, but it's not the horrible pain that made it difficult to walk I was having a couple of weeks ago.

Friday, 16 May 2014

bryn who?

More mini anime reviews today.


I'm doing my best to catch up with the ones I'd not watched from this season, but there's quite a few!

Brynhildr in the Darkness

There's a particular type of show I have no easy terminology to summarise.  A good example of it is Freezing and it sort of involves physically torturing or causing excess pain to characters.  A bit like torture porn, but not actually with torture.  In the case of freezing this was also wrapped up in fan-service, and Brynhilder has a smattering of this too, but it's more like this is a cross between a fairly generic instant girlfriend / harem show and that over-the-top cruelty show.

It's not a blending that really works.  The normal anime pap stuff is unremarkable and the nasty pain stuff is excessive, so it feels like two separate shows have been cut together.  It also doesn't help that the show's humour is of the silly & fan-service varieties.

You end up with this weird thing of flipping between a generic high-school anime with stupid silly gags (or tits gags in later episodes) to moments of nasty pain and suffering.  One moment the hero will be cracking gags about how the heroine can't do times tables and the next she'll be leaking blood from every orifice and clearly having a very bad time of it.

I dunno - it all just feels quite poorly put together.

No Game No Life

No Game No Life is a bit of a weird show.

I would say it's definitely gown on me compared to my impression from the first episode.  In the first episode the hero came across as quite an arsehole, to be frank, and I was very doubtful as to whether I would continue.

My issue was he was quite annoying, tbh - he was very arrogant, and for no real reason.  He was also a NEET, along with his sister, and if I have a continuing criticism it's that it does pander quite a lot to anime tropes.  There are some big chunks of fan-service, for example, which I don't mind specifically, but it is the sort of thing that mires the show in the predictable.

However, it's also very good at undermining this stuff.  The failing in the first episode is that it didn't really use that trick at all, so the guy was just an arsehole.  It wasn't until the second episode that it poked fun at him.

However, even though I've enjoyed it more, I still have some issues.  The whole thing seems a bit pointless - I don't really know why they're doing what they're doing.  Also things can be quite inconsistent - one moment they're giving a big speech to hundreds of people, the next they're being all agoraphobic about going outside and there being "too many people".  I also find the colour palette quite jarring - it's like having an acid trip in a candy factory - though I can see what they were trying to achieve.

Baby Steps

This is actually a sports anime, though you wouldn't be able to tell from the title.  I've found in the past I often enjoy sports anime more than the sports themselves, generally because they often treat the sports in an odd way.

In this case, the basic idea seems to be that the main character is able to improve through the use of analysis - he sort of works things out and can then implement various strategies or techniques once he's worked them out.

Now that makes the anime quite interesting, but it means it veers off into a bizarre world where the decades of practice that real tennis players need in order to reach professional standards can essentially be circumvented by someone who can remember what shots a player tends to use most often.  Yeah, it's a bit odd.

But a particular redeeming feature is the main character, who's actually a bit different from the usual high-school main character type and you do end up rooting for.

Thursday, 15 May 2014

that's a bit more like it

I'd lost 4 pounds at this week's weigh in.

I therefore now weigh 20 stone 10 pounds, which is good.  If I can keep on the right track I should at least be safe in terms of the new clothes I've ordered for Canada.

I've got all the clothes I've ordered so far and have only had one failure in terms of fitting, which are some boxer shorts.  I will admit I'm a bit finicky when it comes to the fit of boxers, as I prefer them to be loose (that's the reason I switched from Y-fronts, after all).  However, the terminology used to describe boxers often doesn't help with understanding the fit.

So these I ordered turned out to be tailored for a tighter fit, but even bearing that in mind they were too tight and I would have had to send them back anyway.

I've not ordered all I need, but I wanted to try some stuff on before ordering more.  Sizes can get a bit tricky when you're in the super-large category, as what one company means by 4XL doesn't necessarily tie up with what another company means, as the boxers show.

Anyway, I wasn't entirely surprised at the loss - the last couple of weekends I think the numbers were a bit inflated by circumstance (retaining fluids from drinking and some sluggish-ness in my digestion.  This isn't to say I hadn't put on weight, but I think perhaps I hadn't put on quite as much as the numbers suggested.

That's not entirely unusual - everyone's weight fluctuates naturally, though for normal size people the fluctuations probably wouldn't show up on a regular scales.

I've scaled my expectations down and am now basically hoping I can get below 20 stone 7 pounds before the holiday.  Any more is a bonus.

I should note that I've done something to my foot that is causing me some problems.  I've done a classic bit of self-diagnosis and all the symptoms line up with something called Plantar Fasciitis (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plantar_fasciitis).  This basically means I've damaged the big mass of connective tissue that runs along the bottom of your foot (it acts like a sort of cushion/spring).

Of course the only real treatment is to rest... which is hardly an option right now and will be impossible in Canada :/.

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

eurovision

Well, it was Eurovision this last weekend.

I kinda knew it was this weekend, but also kinda forgot about it.  I dunno - it's difficult to explain.

Anyway, the point is that this year it was actually quite good, in terms of both song content and the presentation.  The Danes won it last year and they'd basically built the stage in an old dock in Copenhagen.  And it was actually quite decent - the last few years there's been a bit of a trend for one-upmanship, particularly as it's gone to a few of the new Eastern European Nations.

However, the show here was fancy without being overblown - I mean, it was big scale, but the scale was pretty much in the audience: the stage itself was a reasonable size and a fairly basic space.  They'd make it swanky with some clever screen and various bits and pieces.

I also thought the hosting was pretty good.  The Danes had clearly embraced the silliness of the show over the years, but not gone so far as to take the piss in a nasty way.  Indeed, I thought the level of humour overall from the hosts and the pre-filmed pieces was about right.  There were a few bum notes, obviously, but overall it worked - I particularly liked the "13" song.

Graham Norton seemed less impressed, but then I guess these things are subjective.  He poo-poo'd several songs I quite liked and seemed more impressed with songs I thought were a bit naff.

And speaking of songs, the standard this year was really high.  It was a genuine song contest for once, with quite a few songs that would have been worthy winners.

The British entry was reasonable - it was a relatively interesting song structurally (possibly too much so for Eurovision) and was well performed.  It picked up a smattering of votes, but was obviously almost totally ignored by the Eastern Block voting.  But then that's hardly surprising, given the political issues.

There was actually quite a bit of boo'ing for the Russians, which was a bit unfair on the girls who sung.  And the Russian one wasn't a bad song.

There were some duffers of course - the French entry was bobbins, for example.  Poland's entry was too close to being the "sexploitation" it was clearly trying to parody - if you look it up online there's an English version and you'll see what I mean, and seeing it, it was a bit surprising it wasn't performed in English as without that it just came across as a "votes for boobies" song on the night.  And they were nice boobies, I will happily admit, but the fact it was ironic was rather lost.

The winner was a bit of a mixed bag for me.  I get that Eurovision has an appeal for what might be regarded as minority groups, and the winner this year was a man in drag... with a beard.  It's therefore not unreasonable to suggest that it picked up votes purely based on a sort of "positive discrimination".

However, I think that would only really work as a point (and it wouldn't have won) if it hadn't genuinely been quite good as well.  How can I put it?  I think it would have been up there as a real contender if it hadn't been for the man in a skirt thing, but I don't think it would necessarily have been the runaway winner it was without that.

Monday, 12 May 2014

spanish gp

I almost didn't watch the Spanish Grand Prix.

Not because I didn't want to, but my PVR unfortunately had a funny turn when I started watching it on delay and I had to turn the box off and on.  This obviously killed the recording, but because it was during the build-up stuff I started recording anew and did get to see the race proper.

My PVR has been playing up for a little while, tbh.  I have been expecting it, as the hard drive is getting quite full and it's gotten a bit flaky when I've had that before.  However, the weird thing is that I've actually started clearing some of the older stuff, so there's now more spare space than I've had in a long time, yet the problems have only really just occurred.

I've started clearing things down due to Canada - I need at least 50% of the hard drive free to make sure I can record everything, and it's been about 90% full for a while now.  I've mostly watched recent stuff, but have delved back for a few wildlife documentaries that were on ages ago: Africa and Wild Arabia, both of which are excellent, obviously.  I'm going to do my best, but I've a feeling I may sacrifice a few things.

I'll also set my BT box up as a back-up, although that's proven to be quite flaky in the past too and failed to record stuff.

The grand prix itself was okay.  It was relatively quiet for long stretches of the race, and they seemed to always be in the wrong place at the wrong time, as just about every overtake was shown on replay.

The end of the race was a lot more exciting, as Rosberg was a bit quicker than Hamilton and was chasing him down.  If there had been a few more laps he may have overtaken him, but in the end it finished just in time for Hamilton to take the win.

The Mercedes is clearly way better than everyone else.  Red Bull and (to a lesser degree) Ferrari have pulled some ground back as they seem to now be on a similar level or better than the other cars with Mercedes engines, but the Mercedes team clearly has aerodynamic advantage as well.

So at the moment it's a bit like a two-formula championship, with Mercedes on their own, and then everyone else.  But it's good that Rosberg and Hamilton are able to race (both in terms of being allowed to and ability-wise) as it means it stays interesting.  One of the big problems when you get a dominant team is that either one of the drivers is way better or the team make a driver number one, so the races can get quite dull.

I mean, I'm sure if the others suddenly catch up Mercedes will start issuing orders for them to stay in position to maximise points, but at the moment it's working well.

Friday, 9 May 2014

spanish grand prix

It's the Spanish grand prix this weekend.

Spain is where they do a lot of testing, but this seems to result in a relatively uninteresting race.  I'm not sure why - I guess because they all know how to set their cars up perfectly for the track, so there's no variability to it?

This weekend was going to be horribly busy, but a few things have dropped away.  One of the more random was that my landlord was supposed to be going on holiday last Wednesday, but when I got back that evening he was still there.  Well, he was there, but his wife wasn't - turns out his hip is playing up (he's never mentioned it before :/) so he felt he couldn't go, but his wife decided to go on the holiday anyway!

As such, I've no real chance to get into the shed to sort through the boxes, which is annoying.  I'll still probably do a swap of summer stuff for winter stuff, but I'm also not sure because of the weather - it's been quite variable for a while now and I'm having to switch between clothes and coats quite often, which is proving to be a pain.

And speaking of clothes, I've bought most of what I need for Canada.  There are a few items I'm going to make later decisions on, but I've either got most of it or it's due to be delivered.  It's obviously been quite expensive, but these things have to be done - particularly for the Canadian Grand Prix.  The weather can be quite variable in terms of shifting from sunny to wet, so I've had to cover both possibilities.

Now I just need to work out how I'm going to fit it all into my suitcase!

Thursday, 8 May 2014

so bad it's good

I've so far failed to watch all of the shows available this season on crunchyroll, because as previously discussed; there seem to be a lot more than usual.  However, I have watched a few and am up to date with them, so I thought I'd do some reviews.  These are broadly in reverse order - I have to say I've actually been a bit disappointed overall with the season and a lot of the shows are poor to middling (of course I've not watched quite a few so I may not have seen the great shows yet!)

Dai Shogun - Great Revolution

This is the one that's inspired the title, as it's really quite bad, but sort of fun because of that.  It's not totally terrible in all regards.  The drawings are good and well rendered, but please note - that's specifically the drawn images.  What they then do with those images is horrible, because the entire show isn't really animated.

You know that cheap technique they used a lot in the old days but not so much now where they literally slide the single drawing around to "animate" it - in this show that is almost the entire extent of the animation.  I honestly can't work out if it's just plain cheap or if it's trying to use that technique deliberately to give it a particular look and style.  It's like when you watch a show that's a homage to something, only the thing this is a homage to is terrible animation, and who wants a homage to that?

But that's not the only problem - the plot isn't so much terrible as it is non-existent.  I honestly have no idea what the show is really about, but not in a good way.  It's not trying to be suspenseful or introduce mystery; it just doesn't seem to have any real point.  The only thing that comes close is getting a big mech across the country... which the hero apparently doesn't want to do... for some reason that isn't at all clear.

As for characters, everyone is a one dimensional cut-out, with entire "character arks" basically taking less than about a third of an episode to resolve.

With the lack of animation, the fan-service is also pretty disappointing... it's just all around poor, which is kinda what makes it enjoyable - it's so bad it's funny, in a baffling sort of way.

Magica Wars

This is a series of shorts from Gainax.  I believe the characters are meant to be anthropomorphic representations of regions, or the region mascots or something.  I dunno, I kinda didn't bother looking it up.  It also doesn't really make any sense - perhaps it does if you know more about the regions of Japan, but to me it's basically a fairly random and meaningless magical girl show.  With quite a bit of objectionable content - the girls are all pretty young and there's quite a bit of perving (including groping of one while she's sleeping... as you do).

If the episodes were longer I would have dropped them, but the animation is nice enough for me to lose 4 minutes of my day a week.

Blade and Soul

At some point Gonzo started making anime again.  I'm not quite sure exactly when, but they've done a sequel to Fam - The Silver Wing and a few other things.  This is a Gonzo show and seems to be right on the money for that - lots of fan-service and a plot that doesn't quite seem to be big enough to fill the episode count so there's a lot of filler.

The show is actually based on a game - a Korean MMORPG, if memory serves, though I think it's an original story but using some of the characters in the game.  I'm not totally sure about that as I have no knowledge of the game.

Anyway, the plot seems quite generic overall - an assassin seeking revenge, though as mentioned, her revenge seeking doesn't seem to be quite full time as she does a lot of other stuff too.  There are a few peripheral characters, some of whom are a bit more interesting (the main character is of the "blanks slate with no emotions" variety).  There's also quite a lot of fan-service with more than a fair dash of bouncing.

I dunno - it's pretty poor, but it's kinda nice in a way to see Gonzo doing what they do again.

Inugami-san to Nekoyama-san

This is another series of shorts.  In this case it's a comedy series around a few yuri (that is to say lesbian) character.  If you have a light knowledge of Japanese, you may notice that the two names involve "dog" and "cat" (well, an inugami is a dog-god, and I'm not sure if nekoyama is a cat god?) - but the basic idea is that the characters are animal-like and their relationships kinda bounce off that.

It's okay - some of the jokes fall a bit flat, but it's very quick-paced.  Indeed, I find it a bit too quick paced in places, and it can be difficult to follow the subtitles.  However, it's sufficiently short that skipping back isn't too big a deal.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

scary

I got a bit of a shock on Sunday when I weighed in, as I'd actually gained 3 pounds, meaning I now weigh 21 stone.

This obviously puts me above where I've been since my supposed recent push to try to lose a bit more weight.  It also means I'm heavier than I have been for quite a while.

I have a few excuses, but the honest truth is I've lost my way a bit.  I've been feeling rather down if I'm honest - looking for a new job hasn't resulted in anything, even when I changed my "search parameters" to loosen them up.

I've had a fair few interviews, but no real sniffs of a job.  I actually went to an interview on Tuesday (it was one I was contacted about before I stopped for Canada, but has taken ages to result in interviews).

I think it went well as an interview - certainly better than most of the others I've had; however, I don't think I'm quite what they were looking for.  I'm therefore anticipating that there will be someone with more relevant experience that they will interview (I was first).  In fact, they may have let the cat out of the bag in that they have a temp covering for someone who was on maternity and then left, so I wouldn't be surprised if really that person will get the job.

The honest truth, though, is if they offered me a job I'm not sure I would want to take it.  I mentioned above that I'd widened the parameters, but I think really in my heart of hearts I don't think I want to stay in this sector (it's quite difficult to explain as I can't really say properly!).

I've actually now stopped all of the automated search e-mails and turned my CV "off" on the job websites.  Once I'm back from Canada I'll fire it all back up again and go back to looking outside of my current sector.  Trouble is I'm really not enjoying working at my current place any more, which is why I loosened things up in the first place, to try to get something to happen quickly.

Either way, my current focus is to get real on the diet - I can't have a situation where even my old clothes don't fit me because I've put on weight!  I mean at the very least it would be ruinously expensive to have to buy everything in bigger sizes again!

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

that's yer lot

I'm just going to do the one post this week.

Yesterday I was snowed under with stuff and tomorrow is my last day for the week, as I've mentioned before.  It's actually two people's last day at the office tomorrow, so I'm sure we'll be going to the pub, which will probably eat up what spare time I have where I might write a blog post.

One of these leavings is not a surprise as he is retiring, but the other came as a bit of a shock, as I was given the person's leaving card to sign yesterday and that was the first I'd heard about it!

For such a small company, communication is terrible here.

Weirdly, I actually had an offer of a job interview for on the Thursday - I'm still looking to move on, of course, but have put everything on hold for a few months until after Canada so I declined.  To be honest, they've also not filled me with confidence given they've taken so long to contact me and finally did so only 4 days before the interview, which is miles away in Bristol.  I'd rather not have another depressing waste of my time where I'm just making up the interview numbers and it's costing me a fortune to attend.

Anyway, I'm going to use some of my couple of days off to buy the stuff I know I will need for Canada, both in terms of online and in the real world.  Obviously the disappointment here is that my grand plans about losing a few stone have not borne fruit, so the clothes I will be buying will be big size stuff.

Speaking of which, I'd dropped 2 pounds on Sunday's weigh in.  I can't say I was surprised by this as such - I don't think it represented a genuine loss, as such, more the reflection of the fact that I was weighing myself after a more "regular" week, as opposed to after the weirdness of the Easter weekend.  I therefore now weigh 20 stone 11 pounds.

Friday, 25 April 2014

short week

Well, it's the end of the week already.

I've actually got a strong of short weeks at the moment, as I'm taking Thursday and Friday off next week for my birthday.  So my weeks will go:

  • 4 day week (last week)
  • 4 day week (this week)
  • 3 day week (next week)
  • 4 day week (week after)

Which is nice.

I'm going to clean the flat this weekend, though I'm intending to do a spring clean over the 5 day weekend I've got next week.  I always do a big clean at Christmas, but I like to do a spring clean as well.  In particular, I need to clean and defrost the fridge freezer.  I didn't do this at Christmas as I knackered myself doing the other cleaning and it's pretty thick with ice.  The fridge is also rather dirty.

It's a big pain defrosting the freezer, as it's a really old, knackered unit, so it gets really thick ice.  Ice also often forms in the door as it has a hole in it, so it takes ages to all melt and is pretty messy, dripping everywhere.

The other reason I didn't defrost it at Christmas was I ended up with quite a bit of food in the freezer.  I've got a small "beer can" fridge thing I use to keep some stuff cold, but it is obviously a lot smaller than the freezer compartment, so I have to be sure to empty it before defrosting it.  I've done well here, as I've literally only some frozen peas, a few pints of milk and some random slices of bread, which I'll probably either finish off for the weekend or will easily fit in the small fridge.

Anyway, I'll give the flat a bit of clean this weekend - I may try to do a few things I would normally leave to the spring clean so that it's less of a chore, but odds are I'll probably spend time playing Civ 5 that I shouldn't :/.

Easter was a bit of a let down if I'm honest - or rather, I let myself down.  I did the full back up, whcih took bloody ages, as usual, but other than that, I kinda failed to do much of anything.  as I say, I did go out drinking, so it was kinda nice to let off steam in that regard, but then that completely destroyed Sunday, when I was hung over, and Monday when I still felt knackered.

Indeed, I did so little across Sunday and Monday that I actually struggled to sleep on Monday night, as I just wasn't tired at all.  I've noticed this problem before - I seem to do enough regular walking nowadays that if I then don't walk for any reason I don't feel tired at night.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

spoilt for choice

Wellp, the new season of anime is upon us and I have to confess I'm struggling a bit.

Just recently I've been doing my best to tackle crunchyroll, and last season was the first ever where I've kept track with all the shows that interested me as they came out.  I've not extended this beyond crunchyroll, but found the shows on there to be just about doable.

Now, every year there are a chunk of shows that crunchyroll gets, but the licence excludes us in the UK (this may be just us that's excluded, or it may also be everywhere outside of North America).  Generally, these shows are picked up by other distributors (funimation & sentai, mainly), so I download two episodes of fansubs in order to sample them and then perhaps look to buy them if I really like them (I've actually been belt-tightening, so this is quite rare recently).

Sometimes they're not picked up in this way or I can't access them a tall or nobody picks them up, in which case I will download the complete series as fansub, with the possible intention of sampling them or watching the lot.

Crunchyroll also has a few of the long-term shows like Bleach and Naruto, but I don't generally go in for those, and of course there are a few shows that are "double season" so they keep going and I may or may not be watching them.

However, this season there seems to have been a bit of a shift towards almost everything being accessible on crunchyroll.  I think it's partly because, being the new FY, there are more new starting anime, but it also seems like there are fewer region restrictions this time around as well.

All this is a very round-about way of saying I'm rather struggling to keep up.  Indeed, there are quite a few shows I've not checked out at all, where this time last season I'd at least taken a look at all of them.

I think I may need to be a bit harsher with my pruning.  Certainly much of what I've watched so far has been "okay" so I'm, tempted to put it on a bit of a back-burner.

The other option is I try to use some of the time of I've got to watch stuff on crunchyroll.  The problem is that I'm struggling to watch regular TV shows as I've been playing Civ 5 rather obsessively for a while now.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

chinese grand prix

The Chinese Grand Prix was a bit of a let-down, to be honest.

China is usually good - it has a hairpin bend that's very wide that usually lends itself to lots of overtaking, but this time there was very little.  I mean, it wasn't a bad race, it's just compared to Bahrain it wasn't all that much.

Of course, that's the problem when you have an amazing race - it raises your expectations quite a lot, so it makes the next race seem worse, even if you'd have been happy with it normally.

It's looking like Mercedes may be unstoppable this year, though.  Speaking of which, I saw that they tipped up to the Red Bull appeal against the fuel flow thing and tried to get them banned for 3 races.

I found it quite amusing, tbh - proper F1 style kick them while they're on the floor stuff.  In that regard ti was kinda surprising that it came from Mercedes, rather than Ferrari, as that's the sort of thing they would generally engage in.

It is quite odd when you think of it - Red Bull appealed against a punishment that had already been applied, and Mercedes were basically going "Actually, that punishment was way too light."

They apparently submitted a 95 page document in support and had a QC there arguing their case.  The tribunal basically ignored them and simply upheld the existing punishment, which was fair enough.  I do sort of take Red Bull's point if they think the sensor wasn't working properly, but if you're told to do something by the race director you should comply and then make a case afterwards.

Especially when it's the first race of the season - I think they'd have been more likely to make some concession or do something for the rest of the season if they'd taken that approach.  By disobeying you've undermined any point you may then want to make.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

wowser

So I weighed in on Monday, and it was not good news.

I'd gained five pounds... taking me up to 20 stone 13 pounds.

It was not a good weekend, generally.  I wasn't too bad with my old problem of buying too much food, but I certainly wasn't lacking stuff to eat.  Well, I say that - I'd actually had a couple of curries during the week (with the training course I felt the need).  However, there were two big problems.

The first was a lack of exercise - on the Friday I was short on walking and on Sunday and Monday I basically did nothing.  There was sort of a reason for this in that I've been having some trouble with my right heel, but really this was a combination of laziness (I played a lot of Civ 5) and a hangover.

And that was the second issue - I went out for a "few drinks" on the Saturday and actually got wasted.  In total I had 8 cans of lager, a half of a small bottle of vodka with 2 cans of Dr Peppers as mixers and two thirds of a bottle of red wine.

I also ate a load of junk - both on the Saturday and then on the Sunday.  Indeed, I even cleaned out the limited supply of junk type stuff I keep at home when I got back, so it really was pretty bad.

I'm therefore not surprised I gained weight, though I have to say the scale was surprising.  I'm slightly suspicious that some of it may be temporary effects, but still, it's a significant gain and completely wipes out the little I had lost since resolving to lose weight for Canada.

I really need to get serious here - I'm getting close to when I need to buy new clothes for the trip and I therefore need to know what sizes I should buy.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

easter

Well, last day of the working week today as it's Easter.

I must say it's kinda snuck up on me this year.  I think a big part of that is because of the weather - it feels like it's rained continuously for almost an entire year, and the seasons have virtually disappeared, so it's almost weird now that it's actually spring-like.  It feels kinda sudden, somehow.

The training thing yesterday was horrendous.

Not because it was badly done (though the food at the venue was horrible - rather dried out and sorry looking), but because they'd crammed what should have been two days of stuff into a day - less than a day, actually, as it ended at 3:30.  It was in London so it was a very long day as well.  And then I couldn't get to sleep until quite late, so I'm pretty knackered today.

Oddly, it's the Chinese grand prix this weekend.  I say oddly because usually they time the grand prix so that they don't land on "other" days.

China is usually a good race and I think the new engines will suit it so I'm hoping it will be as good as Bahrain.  Unfortunately the BBC is only showing highlights on the TV again, but I'll listen on the radio.

My other plans for Easter are pretty minimal as I'm trying to save pennies for Canada.

I'll probably do a bit of a swap around with some stuff that's out in the shed - if the nice weather continues I'll need to get my shorts out and put away jumpers and stuff.  I'll also probably do a full back-up (I keep all the drives out in the shed too).  These aren't quite as firm as my landlord recently told me he is actually going away a few weeks after Easter and it's usually easier to mess about in the shed when he's away.  However, the weekend that this covers I'm also booked to go and see a friend.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

irony

I'm going on a training thing tomorrow for work.

It's something to do with some new EU regulations, so I'm sure it will be highly exciting.  It's in London, which makes the travelling painful, particularly as they've scheduled a start of 09:30.  It does mean it ends early, though (about 3:30), but I'm obviously no going to blog.

And speaking of work, I found this quite amusing a little while ago, and very relevant to why I'm looking for a new job.

One of my bosses got an e-mail the other day asking if we'd be willing to send them a tool they'd seen us using to help make bid/no bid decisions.

The first point of amusement was that my boss clearly didn't know what he was talking about, even though I've shown my boss the tool several times.  So the boss asked him for some more details "to help pin down what he was talking about" and then forwarded to me to essentially ask what he was talking about.

I pointed him straight at the tool and suggested it was rather cheeky of them to be asking for us to just hand it over.

The boss took a look at the tool and then we had a very brief chat, where the boss echoed my opinion that it was cheeky for them to ask for it.  However, the boss also said the tool looked "like quite a good bit of work" & "clever".

Which all seemed quite ironic - here's a tool I put together that the boss clearly hadn't ever bothered to look at properly before, but then when somebody else asked for it, looked at it and thought it was quite good.

So it's a tool that helps to make bid/no bid decisions, something we're woefully (indeed wilfully) bad at, that the other company could see the value in, but that my own company cannot.

Which kind of sums up why I don't really want to stay - what I do is not in any way valued.

Monday, 14 April 2014

fat lad

I wrote the following last Friday, but failed to post it:

No change in my weight last weekend, so I still weigh 20 stone 10 pounds.

This was obviously a little disappointing, but not entirely surprising.  As previously mentioned, I'd bought way too much food and this spilled over into the full weekend as well as the following weeks itself.  In other words, I was eating pretty badly all week, not just on those few days off I had.

I've not eaten particularly well this week either, so I'm expecting some horrors when I get on the scales on Sunday.

Easter is rapidly approaching - I've got a few days book as leave for my birthday too, so I now enter a period where I'm not doing a full 5 day week for ages.  However, I'm a bit nervous this will also impact the diet situation quite badly.

I need to clean my bedsit this weekend - I don't generally clean when there's a grand prix on and it's been a double-header, so things are getting a bit mucky.  I'll probably do a spring clean over Easter, but another week is a bit long to leave it.  Plus cleaning this weekend will make the job easier next week.

---

In actuality I weighed in on Sunday morning and found I weighted 20 stone 8 pounds.  So, in other words, I'd lost the two pounds I put on.

I have absolutely no understanding how this could be the case - I ate really badly all week and it was nothing special in terms of exercising.  I mean, we went to the pub on Friday as it was two people's birthdays, and both brought in biscuits and cakes, which I partook in.

I even had a small donor kebab on Wednesday evening!  I do my washing on Wednesday evenings now and I wanted something cooked and would usually have had a portion of chips to satisfy this need, but the chip shop was open so I went to the kebab shop next door, which was expensive but nice - the salad was very fresh, which is a good sign in a kebab shop.

So yeah - no idea how I lost 2 pounds :/

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

civ 5

I've been playing quite a lot of Civilization 5 recently.

I got a bit pissed off with SimCity and have essentially stopped playing.  They've now released the off-line "single player" (like I ever played multi-player!) version, but I've not actually played this yet.  Hopefully it will fix the key issue, which is the ridiculously broken multi-city play, but I'm guessing not.  I think they've just re-engineered it to make it off-line playable, rather than fixing how it does what it does, so I'm guessing it will continue not to make any sense.

Anyway - Civ 5.

I've mentioned Civ3 a lot before on the blog as a game I've played repeatedly and as my favourite of the Civ series.  I found Civ4 quite disappointing - it was pretty and I liked some of the ideas in it, but overall it felt really cramped and compressed as a game, encouraging you just to have, like, 3 cities.

Civ4 I honestly played a handful of times and then went back to Civ3.

Civ5 I followed the development quite closely and was intrigued by some of the new concepts - the game was moving to having hexagonal tiles, rather than squares, and combat was being seriously overhauled.  Given square tiles had some weird impacts on the game and combat has been rather broken for a while I liked the sound of it.

However, when it launched it was one of these new online steam registration jobs and was a nightmare to get installed.   I also then started playing and found a lot of graphical glitches - including tiles I couldn't even see.  It also didn't really seem to explain the new things properly - the advisors just seemed to pop up with links to the civilopedia, rather than actual advice, for example.

I therefore stopped playing altogether.  I had literally only played half of one of the tutorial missions and that was it - I'd give it a few months for patches to be issued and then pick if back up.

Only 4 years passed :/.  I even bought the first expansion pack with the idea of using that as a way to start playing again, but it just sat on my shelf gathering dust.  It was only the combination of the second expansion pack, my being pissed off with SimCity and my complete re-install of my games machine that eventually caused me to start playing the game!

And I have to say I've really enjoyed it.

I mean, it's not perfect, but there's a lot I like.  I like that they've taken some of the core concepts and built them up - you have a lot of smaller events, rather than bigger ones.  So, as a random example, if you're doing culture, you have great artists, great writers, great musicians, but also in the late game archaeology can generate loads of stuff too.  It feels like each of the elements is more in-depth and complicated.

It does maintain the specialisation of cities, which was an aspect I wasn't keen on in 4 - I've always liked building everything in all my cities - but now it's a bit easier to have a mix (so a city that is for gold can also be useful for science), but it's also clear what buildings do what.  If you're doing culture in a city, you have a progression of additional culture buildings that have pre-requisite building of the same type.  It's also helped because the new hex system and increased city influence radius makes cities much more significant entities - you can have loads of citizens doing stuff relating to a specialisation in just one city.

The game does seem to be set up again to discourage large empires, as it was in Civ4.  I'm a little puzzled by the logic of this, as at some point you're going to go to war with somebody and if you're any good at the combat side of things you'll start winning their cities.  And if you're going for a domination victory you have to take all the other player's original capital cities, which means you can't avoid the relevant punishment - the capitals can't even be destroyed.

There are a few options for not having cities as part of you empire - making them puppets, which makes them less of a punishment, but it's still a punishment to have them; or you can raze them, but this can take ages and comes with its own punishments.  Of course, given many of the leaders are often hell-bent on war on the higher difficulty levels this can get quite frustrating.  And those of us who want to build a world-spanning empire, it becomes quite difficult.

As mentioned, combat has been overhauled generally, as we're now only allowed one unit per tile.  The whole thing also works very differently, as combat is now not generally definitive.  Unless there is a significant difference between two units basic strength, combat generally results in damage, so it can take three or four turns to kill a unit.

This is fine, but when you can only have single units on tiles and most units only move 1 or two tiles until the late game it can all get quite frustrating.  It's also very annoying moving armies around when weak ranged units that need protecting only move short distances and need to use up movement points to "set up" for a ranged attack.  This is particularly tedious now every road & railroad you construct costs you gold, making long-distance movement problematic - especially since, of course, one unit per tile also applies to workers.

To be honest, it's like playing two separate games - the combat system is like playing a table-top war game a la Warhammer, only you're playing it on a risk board.  That means loads of obstacles and bottlenecks and restrictions making everything horribly frustrating and inefficient.

But then this is Civ - combat has always been poor, and judged with that background, this version is actually much better.  And there are good things - it's easy to tell what's going on, and the combat predictions are generally accurate and cities have their own defensive strength and ability to attack.

They've badly broken diplomacy, though - I mean, it has a few nice ideas, but key elements are gone, and generally the AI behaves illogically.  To be honest, the AI is generally bobbins - even now, with two expansions, it does daft things and can be very predictable.  Espionage is also rubbish (if they do a further expansion, I hope these get serious work) and you're almost better off ignoring it.

Wow - this is going on a bit, so I'll just mention scenarios and leave it there.

Previous versions of civ have generally had scenarios, but I've mostly found they weren't worth playing.  However, the scenarios that come with Civ5 are actually quite good.  They change the game on more fundamental levels and work as separate games.  They're also generally short enough to enjoy but without eating too much time.

The game also has very good support for modding and they've taken the right approach when it comes to add-ons (when compared to EA with SimCity), which appears to be the good side of it being a steam game.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

bahrain grand prix

I only actually watched the Bahrain grand prix last night.

They've decided to make Bahrain a night race for some reason - I'm not quite sure why.  With Singapore making it a night race has the advantage of putting the race in a timeframe more suitable for European audiences.  It also works as a venue, being at night and in the middle of a city.  However, Bahrain is a proper track and is in the middle of the desert.

The race itself was therefore at close to tea time and the BBC only showed highlights as well, which meant they showed it at 10PM, which is just too late for me - it ended at 11:30, which would mean I wouldn't get enough sleep.

As such, I listened to it on the radio (the radio coverage was notably lacking as well, only showing the qualifying and race - this seems to back up my theory I mentioned that the BBC has further cut the budget.) on the day and recorded it to watch last night.

I have to say, the radio coverage was better than the TV coverage.  I think with doing highlights they had a real problem, because the whole race had something going on non-stop.  This meant they had to show you some bits well, or more stuff in less detail, if you see what I mean and I think they went for the latter.  It also didn't help that they clearly had some sound issues on the TV coverage.

Anyway, in my mind Bahrain is one of the boring races, but last year it produced a good race.  This year it did the same - indeed, it seemed to be one of the best races in a good while.  Certainly it showed what I felt previously - that the first couple of races were simply okay where others said they were great.  This was a properly great race.

Well, great if you were in a Mercedes powered car.  The power plant they've come up with is clearly way ahead of anyone else.  And the Mercedes team has combined that with a truly great car to produce a phenomenal package.  If the performance difference shown after the safety car restart is to be believed (when they would obviously want to turn the car up to maximum to avoid losing the 1-2 and having saved fuel while under the safety car) then they're up to around 3 seconds a lap faster than even the other Mercedes powered cars.

That's a phenomenal margin - Red Bull's dominance was never that sort of scale: maybe up to about 1 second at its biggest.

I'm obviously particularly pleased that real racing is on for this year, with my whole trip to Canada.  I was a bit worried it would be a bit of a non-season.

Monday, 7 April 2014

more on interviews

So, the other two interviews.

The next interview was with another big defence company.  Unfortunately, a similar issue occurred to some of the previous interviews - I'd only been told the big company name and only found out the particular division quite a way into the process.  Indeed, in this case I'd actually only found out once the interview was set up, and if I'm totally honest it's not a division I would particularly have wanted to pursue if I'd found out earlier.

Still, I figured I'd go along anyway, and I was owed some time off in lieu, so I took this (plus a day) and had half a week off.  The interview was really intense - the main guy barraged me with questions and I got into a muddle.  In particular, one of the things you're really not supposed to do is bad-mouth your current company.  As you can image, this is particularly difficult for me - especially when they ask me why I want to move on.  What I'd really want to say is "I can't stand the MD and find the whole experience a horrible combination of annoying and frustrating."  Which wouldn't be a good thing to say, but as I say, with him firing questions at me so much I ended up saying some non-complimentary things - though not in that blunt a way.

As I say - not sure I'd want to work for that division anyway, as it sounds a bit dull.  I also think they were looking for someone with different experience (more on that in a moment).

I've not heard anything about this one as I write, but then I'm writing this some way in advance so that's not necessarily surprising.

The final interview was a weird one - I'd applied a while back and they'd said if you don't hear within 5 days you've been discarded; however, it was 3 weeks before they contacted me, and it was clear that it was all being done in a panic.  I mean I sent the recruitment person an e-mail saying I'd be interested in a chat and mentioned we could talk on one of the days off I'd booked the following week, and then suddenly I'm being asked for an interview on one of those days!

The interview was held with the boss and the guy who I would be replacing, who I got a chance to chat with before the interview and it turned out that this was his last day.  To the extent that he was literally grabbing his box of stuff and going home once the interview was over!  He hadn't been sacked or anything, but ti was clear they hadn't timed things well.

Now in this job you would essentially be working on your own in the role.  So, in other words, I'd found out that the only person who could do a handover of the role was not going to be there after that day!

It was another small division of a big company and it sounded fairly interesting.  Unfortunately I don't think the interview went all that well - I find the questions that get asked are either very predictable ones I'm asked a lot or I can think of myself beforehand, or they're total blind-siders.

In particular, the blind-siders often tend to focus on areas that I just don't have any experience of, but also, more importantly, have no mention on my CV.  So, for example, my CV says nothing about me having done project management, because I haven't.  Yet the person will launch into a whole set of questions that really focus on skills that are ore relevant to PM.  I mean, sure, there's overlap with Bid Management, but the important aspects are unique to each job.

This was like that - they asked a bunch of questions that I couldn't really answer because I didn't have relevant experience, but in particular, weren't really mentioned on my CV.  I mean, I'd done similar stuff, but not the exact thing they were asking about, so I struggled.

It was also weird - they were all dressed very casually.  I'm guessing this was because of a dress-down Friday, but I felt like I'd turned up to a wedding in a clown suit!

However, on the good side, they have let me know quite quickly that I was unsuccessful, though even here it was a bit weird - the feedback didn't make any sense.  I mean, I'm grateful they have let me know, but the fact I've been told was because they weren't keen on my answer to a questions they never asked is a bit weird.

In fact I was going to set down some moans about the whole process, but I've prattled on for a while, so I'll save that for another day.

Friday, 4 April 2014

saving on spectacles indeed

I forgot to mention on the money front - as well as spending a huge amount on my car, with my days off I also went to the dentist, which cost me £45 for the 15 minutes it took (they did some x-rays, but also I'm now private), but I also got some new glasses.

I've needed some new glasses for a while - the coating on my current pair has started to crack, which gets picked up in direct sunlight, but also I think my prescription has changed a little.  I also wanted to get a new pair with Canada looming - partly to have a back-up, but also as part of refreshing clothes & stuff.

Anyway, point is, part of the reason I've put off getting some new glasses was the expense - I usually expect to spend at least £250 and often around £400.  This is partly as frames are quite expensive (it's one of those areas where you pay more for less - if you get cheap glasses, they're often big thick things, but the more you spend, the lighter and thinner they get!) but also, my prescription is so powerful I have to get the thinner lenses.

Well, I don't have to get ones as thin as I usually do, but I do have to get thin ones because the curve on cheaper lenses would make them impractical - I wouldn't be able to see out of the sides as the curve would distort things too much.  I'm so short sighted that when they do the test, I can literally only make out the biggest letter (which is about 8 inches high) by squinting!

So I'd put this off for a while, expecting ti to be expensive, but in the end I've paid less than £75!  And that's for a full test, frames that cost £85 and lenses of exactly the same thinness as my current pair (I recall these were about £130 on their own last time).  It's weird and I'm not entirely sure how he worked it out, but he basically applied a bunch of discounts/vouchers I wasn't properly eligible for.  So here at least was good news.

It's the Bahrain Grand Prix this weekend.  It's apparently being held at night this year, though I'm not sure that will improve the racing at all.  The BBC's coverage is very thin - it seems they're not even covering the practice sessions on the radio.

The Beeb's coverage does seem a bit lacking this year.  Gary Anderson has gone, Eddie Jordan isn't going to be there until the fifth race (so a quarter of the way through).  I'm wondering if they've cut the budget even further - they also seem to be a bit lacking in special features, which you'd have thought they could do loads on with the new regulations.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

job interviews

So I've had 5 job interviews in the last couple of weeks.

The first was with a small training consultancy company based just outside Guildford.  This proved to be a gigantic waste of my time.  And I don't just mean it wasn't the job for me, but they had me undertake all sorts of exercises and hoop-jumping crap.  These used up around two weekend's worth of my time.  When I eventually got to the interview they made it very plain that my "personality type" wouldn't fit.

I should perhaps explain they had me to do a Meyers-Briggs test.  These are mostly bullshit, but it does give some broad indicators - in particular, for me, they show I'm an introvert, which I am.  So at the interview she basically said that they have meetings where, in essence, they lose control and only the loudest people are heard.

Now obviously I wouldn't enjoy that anyway, but why ever would I want to work for a company that can't control meetings?  Especially a company that's supposedly doing management consulting for other companies.  I phoned the agent that had contacted me and withdrew as I was walking to my car.  I'd actually wanted to pull out as soon as the Myers Briggs test had been mentioned, but she encouraged me to stick with it.

The second interview was with a big defence company.  And it hadn't really been a good idea from the start, if I'm honest.  Unfortunately, the recruitment person did not appear to be entirely competent (you'll notice a bit of theme with this) - the initial job spec she sent me had the job down as being based in Guildford, with occasional days in London.

However, it turns out the job is entirely based in London with no time in Guildford at all!  She also booked the interview for me for 4:30PM, but booked it with them for 4PM, so when I turned up they thought I was half an hour late!  I'm guessing she booked the extra half hour so that they could prep, but didn't communicate properly with either of us - particularly since one of the interviewers had to go by 5PM, so they left half way through.

To some extent, this was all beside the point - I went to the interview seeking to be convinced that it was a good enough job for me to put aside my desire not to work in London, and I was not convinced.  I actually closely monitored the journey time in particular, and if I was to take the job I would be spending 4 hours each day commuting.  The problem is this line - it's a very slow service (1 hour 10 mins) and only has two trains an hour - and I could move, but it's always going to be horribly busy commuter trains.

Since the interview I've heard jack shit, despite chasing.  As noted, I'm not really interested anyway, but it's just another example of how badly all these recruitment people behave.  I had thought maybe it was just the agencies, but this was an actual employee of the company, and she's acted just as poorly.

The third interview was bordering on a farce.

It was with a company that is quite big and well known for one thing, but this was for a different, much smaller, division.  It's quite engineering focused; however, I have to confess I'm not sure it is really that interesting to me.  Not that I really had the chance to investigate - the agency they were using was shocking: terrible communication and the agent didn't seem to have any common sense.

To give you an example, she fixed up the interview but only told me the location/gave me directions on the day of the interview.  Now to be fair, the interviewer messed things about no end - it went from a face-to-face meeting to a telephone interview, back to a face-to-face, then moved from daytime to evening - but the agent did not help matters.  I didn't even know it was this particular other division until a good way into the process.

The interview itself was also a bit of a mess - because it was in the evening and I had to go up the motorway I basically rushed there and that put me in a bit of a manic frame of mind, particularly as I'd had a coffee quite late in the day and it had been a busy day at work.  I rabbited on like I was on speed :/

On this one I've also heard jack shit - hmm, one of those patterns, perhaps?

I'll continue this later, I think - the other two interviews were after a gap anyway.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

australian & malaysian gps

The formula one season is under way!

I used an exclamation point there as it seems like the last season only just finished.  Indeed, the Australian Grand Prix was actually a few weeks ago, and we've also already had the Malaysian Grand Prix and Bahrain is next week!

Of course there are some big changes this year - there's the whole new powerplant, with the V6 turbo engines and all sorts of clever engine recovery systems.  But there are also some key changes to things like wing sizes and what they can do aerodynamically.

The new engines are very torquey (after all, they use a lot more electric power, which is instant) and the two seems to have made the cars a lot more skittish.  You can see them skidding and sliding as they fight to control the cars, which I have to say I quite like.

It would be possible to make cars that almost didn't need a driver.  Indeed, at several points in F1's history new technology has been introduced that meant the driver was "compensated for", and much of this has ended up in road cars - anti-lock brakes and traction control are obvious examples.

However, generally, F1 has tended to ban these, partly to keep the driver an integral part of the sport (as well as reduce costs and complexity).  The problem then develops that once everything gets banned everything ends up the same.  For a long time now the engines have almost been a non-factor, but now they're suddenly at the forefront of the sport.

Of course there are down-sides - the ear-splitting noise (which no matter how much you tell people how loud it is, you had to experience to really know: some of the old f1 car was as loud as a jumbo jet, but you can't really appreciate that unless you went to a race) is gone.  But then it's been replaced by sound you can understand - you can hear the tyres squeal, for example.  And while the screaming of the engines was an experience, you couldn't ever be at a race without hearing protection, and on some levels that's a bit pointless when you think about it.

Anyway - we've had two races, so what have I thought?

Well, I have to confess I was a bit worried after the testing that very few cars would finish.  The reliability seemed very low, and a race where only 6 cars cross the line can be a bit disappointing.  However, I've been pleased to see things haven't been that bad - sure retirements have increased, but not disastrously so.  It's also pleasing to see some of the lower teams have taken advantage of this aspect and scored a few points.

The Australian race was okay.  To be fair, Australia is not the best of circuits, as it's a "sort of" street circuit and hasn't tended tend to produce great races.  Generally the most interest comes from seeing the new cars in action.

However, Malaysia was generally better.  It's quite a good circuit - certainly one of the better Tilke circuits and has places where overtaking is possible.  If I'm honest Malaysia had a bit of a lull in the middle, but picked up towards the end.

The Mercedes would appear to be the class of the field, both in terms of the engine itself and the team.  Clearly they put a lot of effort in from quite early last year, which obviously hurt them last year but is paying dividends now.

The opposite seems to have been true for Renault, who with Red Bull were clearly focused on last year's championship.  However, aerodynamically Newey's Red Bull seems as good as ever - it certainly narrowed the gap in the rain, where engine performance was negated.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

weight

I mentioned this yesterday, but I unfortunately gained two pounds this last weigh in.

I therefore now weigh 20 stone 10 pounds.

I cannot confess to be surprised by this outcome.  The last couple of weeks I have been eating quite badly.  I've had quite a lot of shop-bought sandwiches and also lots of cakes and various other treats (I've been quite weak when it comes to cream eggs, which have of course become more prominent with it being near Easter).

However, I've also not been doing quite so much walking.  Owing to having the interviews I've had a few half days and haven't wanted to get sweaty, so my number of steps has dropped quite a lot.  The interviews have also been a reason for eating badly - both in terms of having to grab something to eat quickly, but also comfort eating when they've not really been very positive.

I'm actually thinking I will put the whole job hunting on hold until after Canada.  It is proving something of a distraction and messing about with my schedule.  I'm not sure yet if I will fully stop or be a bit more selective, instead.  Because I got so unhappy at work (and there was the fuck up so I was worried I might lose my job) I've been applying to most everything that looked a possibility, rather than the heavy filtering as I did when I looked before.

I also had some slight issues with minor "injuries" - this is too significant of a term to use, to be honest: what I mean is I had a few aches/pains/tweaks/bad night's sleep that meant I decided to take it easy with walking on a few occasions.  This has not been anything long term at any point, and I'm still way above target in terms of steps, but I think it probably contributed to some of the fluctuations.

It's also become apparent I really need a new set of walking shoes.  My current pair the outermost layer of the sole on the bottom has worn through in a few places - indeed, in some places the entire tread is worn away.  I'd been hoping to hold off until my birthday, but I think I will need them before them.

Monday, 31 March 2014

unhappy

I've been feeling down for a while.

I'm finding work to be quite an unpleasant experience.  I find the lack of any clear direction, the lack of common sense and, in particular, the lack of any ability to make change for the better very frustrating.  I have known for a while that I disagree with some of the things they seem to have decided on, but even then I'd be happy if stuff was actually happening - I'd kinda be happy to be proved wrong, but the whole "limbo" aspect of things is just not fun to be involved in.

Of course I've also been more proactively looking for a new job again.  This hasn't been going too well.  I clearly have a good CV - at the least it is good enough for me to get interviews.

I've now had a total of 5 interviews, though these have not been all they could.  I'll hopefully blog about it separately, but I don't really see myself getting/wanting those jobs.

And of course I'm back to the old situation of no apparent prospect of a salary improvement at work (it's now getting on for 2 years), despite my rent and various other costs going up, so I'm struggling financially again.  Particularly since I desperately need to save money for the Canada trip.  This last month or so I've had to spend a fortune on my car:

£450 for a complete new set of tyres
£200 on a service & MOT (plus some replacement parts)
£250 on insurance
£175 on Car Tax

So that's over £1,000: I only take home about £25K a year, so I've had to spend nearly 4% of my entire year's salary in one month!

I've also been struggling with the weight thing.  I decided I was going to lose a few stones in preparation for the Canadian Grand Prix and blogged about the "progress" here, but just recently ti stagnated and then, while I wasn't blogging, it actually went into reverse - I gained 1 pound a few weeks ago (although I lost it again the following week), but this week I'd gained 2 pounds.

The problem - and it's been a problem all my life - is that when I feel down I eat.  I am the very definition of a comfort eater, and since I feel down quite often, I eat quite a lot.  Of course it's a vicious circle - when you get very big and find it difficult to do things like walk up flights of stairs that becomes a source of unhappiness, prompting me to eat more.

The other problem is I've not really gone about it by sticking to a proper diet.  I've increased the amount of exercise I do, which has been helping to keep the last few weeks of not eating well in check, but I've also slipped back into some of my weirder habits.  In particular I've been "multiple buying" again - this is where I buy several meals worth at one shop, then for some reason buy stuff for the same meals at another.

So, specifically, while I was away I had several meals to buy for and bought cheese on toast, hot cross buns and some mini-sausages plus buns as meals.  Only if you do the maths while I needed 4 meals worth I had therefore actually bought 7 meals worth.  Since none of it was particularly long lasting, that meant I had to eat more meals than I needed and for those meals to be bigger.

And to be honest, I didn't really need to buy any of them - I have stuff in the freezer and cupboards that I really need to get rid of (and, of course, would, therefore, effectively be free meals instead of spending more money).

I think I need to introduce some will power and/or start actually thinking about stuff more.

Monday, 24 March 2014

just two months

Meant to post this Friday, but I forgot:

So I appear to have only managed two months of (fairly) constant blogging, before going silent again.

Unfortunately, not blogging seems to have a bit of a momentum to it.  That's why I often try to pre-write entries, so that if I don't have the time / can't be arsed to do a blog on a day I have something to fall back on.

However, as my last post attests I got pretty busy with work for a while.  That actually ended a while back, but unfortunately then I was into the post-overwork phase where I just can't be arsed to do stuff.

I'm actually on holiday three days of next week, so I'm guessing normal service won't resume until April.  I'll try and use some of the time I have to write a few blog posts.  I've certainly got a lot to post about; it's just finding the time and summoning the energy to do it that's the problem, as always.

Friday, 28 February 2014

working weekend

Looks like I'm going to be in working this weekend.

I really didn't need this, but people have let me down left, right and centre.  If they'd done their fucking jobs properly and on time it wouldn't have been necessary.

But of course they haven't so I need to work the weekend to do what needs to be done in time.  Funny how it's always me that has to do this shit.  Give other people two fucking weeks to get their jobs done and they fail to make the deadline, and what they do produce is horribly written drivel.  But of course it's no problem - obviously I can sacrifice my weekend to rewrite the entire fucking document.

The bizarre thing is that this is the exact same thing as where I had the situation that led to "the problems".  People doing their jobs which they've had weeks to do last minute, so then I have to sort out the mess afterwards.

This time, though, I'm not in the situation where it's last minute so I have to make a panicked decision.  No, I get to do that next weekend, I'm sure.

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

flatline

I've not had the chance to blog just recently, and this may be my only post this week.

I thought I'd give a quick update on the whole diet & weight situation.  I mentioned last week that the problem was going to be temptation, and I roundly failed in resisting that temptation.

Just to give you a "for instance", I ate 6 cream cakes last week.  And we're talking big cream cakes - 2 large ├ęclairs, 2 chocolate cream doughnuts and 2 cream buns (like giant profiteroles).  I also ate 4 custard tarts, which I don't count as cream cakes, but are in the same ball-park.

So not good diet-wise.  With the interviews I have to confess I was also expecting the walking to go badly (in the sense that I don't want to be sweaty for an interview, and also it takes time to prep that ate into time I would usually go for a walk.  Well, this didn't prove to be the case.

I also had a few bad nights sleep, due to nerves for the interview, but also the usual semi-insomnia stuff I get bouts of, where I fall asleep no problem but then wake up at 3AM (or similar).

While the latter isn't a good thing, it does seem to eat calories, so I'm guessing the fact I did sufficient walking and this must have counteracted the poor diet, because my weight remained the same - 20 stone 8 pounds.

This makes the third week at this weight, which is good in the sense I've not gained weight when I could so easily have done so, but very bad in terms of the targets I'm aiming for for the Canadian holiday in June.

Part of the problem I'm experiencing is that I'm okay all week (though not this week, to be fair) but then Friday I get a sort of attitude of "having a treat", only the problem is I get several treats (Friday is my shopping day) and basically then spend a chunk of the weekend eating badly too.  And this seems to counteract the good part of the early week.

Well this week hasn't been too bad, although I'm going to be a bit down with the walking, so we'll just have to see.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

final mu

These are the other three series I've been watching on crunchyroll, and I've kinda saved the best for last, in that I like these three more than the others I've talked about so far.

Witch Craft Works
Witch Craft Works kinda took me by surprise.  Reading the premise and watching the first couple of episodes I thought this might be a fairly standard harem anime, however, it isn't really.  I mean, there are lots of things in the series you've seen before, but this particular mix is somehow quite fresh and interesting.  It's not a harem, although there are lots of girls in the show.  It's also almost totally devoid of fan-service.  I mean, some of the characters have big boobs, but I've not seen a single flash and the main character never gropes them; and many of the skirts are short, but I've not seen a single flash of panties; no-one has been to the beach (so far) or taken a hot springs bath.  It's also beautifully animated and both the story and characters are interesting and the funny stuff is genuinely funny.

The Pilot's Love Song (Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta)
Unfortunately, unlike Witch Craft Works, the animation on this show is quite lacking.  It's clearly being done on a much lower budget and there are some very glaring moments - in the beach episode (unfortunately, this one also complies with many anime tropes, and some of the ones it picks are a bit unfortunate - the whole beach episode is horribly shoe-horned in) there's a scene where the layer with the swimming costumes doesn't align properly with the bodies, so you get some weird jutting-out angles.  I mean, it's not all horrible: the flying stuff is pretty good, but it doesn't help.  The story is a bit contrived if I'm honest and as I say does utilise too many tropes; but it's really the characters that make this one - the central romance is quite interesting, particularly when you learn the full truths about who everyone is.

Nobunagun
If I'm honest, I think if I was sampling for purchase, rather than watching it all on crunchyroll, I think this is one of those series where I'd have watched the first two episodes and put it down as a definite purchase... but then been a bit disappointed by the rest of the show.  I mean, obviously we're only half way through, but it got a little bit less interesting when it moved into proper monster-of-the-week and team-of-weirdoes territory than when it was just the one military otaku given unexpected powers.  I mean, don't get me wrong, I've enjoyed it; it's just not quite the awesome-fest the first couple of eps implied.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

opportunity beckons

So I've mentioned I've been looking for a new job and I appear to have 3 interviews in the near future.

I say "appear" as one of them has gone oddly quiet after sending me a message saying they wanted to see me for an interview.  I've had this sort of thing before, actually - a message saying they want to interview me, I ask what scope there in in terms of dates available, there's silence and then they tell me actually the job no longer exists.

The bit about scope for moving the date is because I've noticed an interesting phenomenon when companies propose dates for interview - they're almost always mid-week: almost never on a Monday or Friday.

However, Friday and Monday are the most convenient days to take as leave - it just looks like you're taking a long weekend for whatever reason.  A day off mid-week is much more suspicious / unusual.

I also think Monday is the most sensible day for sick leave if you need to use that as an excuse.  To me it sounds more reasonable that you ate or drank something that's disagreed with you while you were out and about over the weekend than during the week.

These three being so close together has actually made it a bit inconvenient.  The two that are talking to me I've had to juggle them to try to get them all on the same day.  Well, I didn't have to, but this seemed the least disruptive thing to do.  Whether it's a good idea in terms of the quality of interview I give, I'm not sure.

However, if I'm totally honest I'm not sure either are real contenders.  One I'm not sure the company is going to be a good fit - they don't sound like my cup of tea, if 'm honest.  The other does, but the job would be based in London.

I've always tried to avoid working in London, as the travel strikes me as being horrendous.  The line I'm on is particularly bad as it takes over an hour to go from my closest stations (I'm about equal distance from two) to London - a journey that would take no more than half an hour by car.  I'm also miles from either station - it's a good 45 minute walk - and I hat buses.

I could move, of course, but there's always going to be a transition period, and where to?  If you live close enough for a decent journey, prices are horrible, if you go far enough out for prices to be reasonable, the journey is horrible.

Well, hopefully if I have the time I'll give the verdict on how both interviews went, though I may be a bit tired to blog later in the week.

Monday, 17 February 2014

self-sabotage

Last week could potentially have been a reasonable week, weight wise.

However, I unfortunately sabotaged myself across the weekend.

Basically, it got to Friday and I was really hungry all day.  When I then did some shopping I gave in to temptation and bought some naughty stuff.

First of these were some double chocolate muffins.  I've mentioned I tend to have pain au chocolate on Saturday, but I replaced it with these muffins that were on offer.  I would guess 1 muffin is probably equivalent to 1 pain au chocolate, but there were four muffins, rather than 2 pains, and I at all four across Friday and Saturday.

The second was that normal walker's crisps were on offer, so rather than the lighter crisps, I bought a six pack each of prawn cocktail and Worcester sauce crisps (two of my faves).  I unfortunately then had a total of 8 packs (4 of each) across the weekend.

The next thing was that I bought a pack of chipolata sausages, only this had half as much free, so it had 18 sausages, rather than 12.  I also obviously bought some large rolls to have the sausages in.  Unfortunately, they only had brown bread in one shop, which I bought, but then in another shop I bought some white rolls as well.  And double unfortunately these were also on a two for one offer, which I failed to resist.

In other words I had 12 large rolls across the weekend.

Now this wasn't enough for me to gain weight, but it was a classic case of me getting on the scales on Sunday morning and seeing "no change" and thinking "If I'd not gone nuts I would clearly have lost some weight".

My current weight is therefore 20 stone 8 pounds.

I don't really know what's going to happen this week.  I'll blog about it later hopefully, if I get time, but basically I'm going to be out and about and there's going to be a real temptation to eat badly.  It's also going to restrict my walking, as I'd rather not be sweaty on certain days, and then won't have the spare time to walk on others.

It could be a disaster if I don't resist, and this week has proven me rather wanting in that regard.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

more mu

I don't really have time to post this week (although I do have plenty to post about!), but I did do 3 more of the mini reviews:

Z/X: Ignition
As I understand it, this is based on a collectible card game.  However, from what I've seen, I'm guessing it must be an electronic version?  Certainly the cards in the anime are actually a sort of digital mobile-like thing.  I have to confess I'm not 100% sure why I'm still watching this.  Generally these types of show are horrible and this is certainly rather wonky in many places, but I dunno, there's an odd charm to it.  Certainly you have to ignore the stuff that doesn't make sense (and there's a lot of that), but I don't find it bad enough to drop.  Plus the angel character is very cute.

Nobunaga the Fool
I think is probably among the most disappointing shows of the season.  It feels epic in scale and it's got a fair amount of mecha action (about the only show that does this season that I've seen).  But it also just feels a bit flat.  It's one of those shows where they mash up historical characters, but in this case, they feel so utterly irrelevant to the actual characters it basically hurts, rather than helps.  Also the characters are way too thin - I really don't care about any of them.  However, it does have mecha so that's why I'm still watching, but given how long it is I'm not sure that will last.

Wizard Barristers: Benmashi Cecil
I'm not sure I've really taken to Wizard Barristers.  The show is very nicely animated.  Some of the battles are a bit CG heavy, perhaps, but generally speaking the action is the highlight of the show.  However, if I'm totally honest I don't think that's enough.  One of the problems I have with the show is the character designs.  I find the way the eyes are done quite weird, and they freak me out a bit.  There's also a sprinkling of fan-service that I find a bit wrong.  Teh fan-service is all focused on the main character, but she's supposed to be this young girl (she looks a lot younger than her character age) who's quite badly affected by her mother having been put on death row - it just feels weird perving over her, and in such an obvious way.  Plus the episode pacing is horrible, and many of the other character sho coudl be interesting are virtually not in the show.  I'm not keen.

Monday, 10 February 2014

one is better than none

So my weigh in this Sunday showed I'd lost one pound.

While 1 pond is disappointing, it's better than staying constant and way better than gaining.  I therefore now weigh 20 stone 8 pounds.

I have to confess I was a bit disappointed at losing only one pound, but also not entirely surprised.  It was another good week exercise wise, but I wasn't quite as strict with my diet.  I mean, I didn't go nuts or anything, but I also didn't stick completely to it.

There was also a slight gross issue last week, which I guess if you're a bit squeamish you should probably not read.  But basically it wasn't a normal week so I was a bit puzzled as to what impact it would have on the whole weight loss thing.

I had a weird sort of constipated then not week.

Basically from Tuesday to Thursday my bowel movements were quite dysfunctional and I felt quite "bloated" and backed up.  It was a bit like one of those adverts for laxatives aimed at women, tbh.

However, on Friday the dam kinda burst and from Friday to Sunday I had 11 bowel movements (I usually have 2 per day), all of which were significant and relatively "normal".  I mean, I didn't get the shits or anything, I just seemed to have all the poos I'd not had earlier in the week.

The weird thing is I can't work out what might have caused it.  My food consumption at the weekend hadn't been particularly unusual, and as I say, I hadn't gone bonkers during the week, so I'm a bit lost as to what it was that ceased me up.

Friday, 7 February 2014

new mu

I've been trying to keep up to some degree with this season's anime.

This has mainly revolved around me making sure to watch the newly released episodes on crunchyroll each week that they come out.  I've been doing well, though there are a couple of shows I haven't looked at.

I therefore thought I'd do some mini-reviews as it's about a third of the way through the season.  Plus I couldn't think of anything else to blog about.

Hoozuki no Reitetsu
I'll start with one I found quite disappointing.  This is a very "talky" show - it's about a middle-manager in hell.  I don't mean a middle manager who has been sent to hell, but a demon who is a middle manager in hell.  I dunno, there are quite a lot of jokes revolving around cultural elements (both in terms of mythology and management culture) that I basically didn't get, and since that's all it is I basically dropped it.

Tonari no Seki-kun
There are quite a few short shows this season.  I don't know if that's normal or if crunchyroll usually picks quite a few up, the three I've watched have all been okay.  All three are basically gag shows and this is probably the one I like the most - the idea is it's about a boy who takes time-wasting in class to epic levels and the girl who sits next to him who we see things through the eyes of and usually gets in trouble for reacting to his antics.  It's possibly a bit too long per-episode, but it makes me chuckle.

Onee-chan ga Kita
This is one of the other short shows.  It's probably the closest to being one of those shows you could see as being a full-length show that actually they've made as a series of short episodes.  I mean, each show is self-contained, but could easily be expanded up into a full-episode, or several combined together to make a full episode.  However, the shorter length does seem to mean an improved budget, as the show looks good (not true of the other two short ones, where short probably reflects cheapness).  The subject matter is a bit odd - big sister (but via marriage, rather than genetically) who is in love with the main character.  However, for me it stays just the right side of freaky in most places.

Strange+
This is the last of the short shows, and is by far the weirdest.  It's basically a spoof of detective gang shows (I think) - it's very short and tbh is really more like a series of gags strung together.  One of the things I'm not keen on is that each episode seems to basically start at the end/middle and sometimes it's too confusing, especially given within just a few minutes the episode ends.

Saki: Zenkoku-hen
I quite enjoyed the original Saki.  There's been a sort of off-shoot show, which I haven't actually watched, but this is the proper continuation.  And it really is a continuation: it actually confused me to start with as it almost picks up as it it's a next episode and it's been several years since the end of the last series.  It also seemed to decide to go on a splurge of introducing new characters, which made me feel a bit lost, as well as constantly throwing them into hot springs type baths.  Now I've nothing against that, but Saki is really all about the OTT Mah-jong and so I got a bit bored while it messed around with this.  It's back to Mah-jong now, so I'm enjoying it more.

More mini-reviews in future blog posts when I can't think of anything to post about!

Thursday, 6 February 2014

sick

I don't feel very well.

I felt a lot worse yesterday and actually feel better today.  However, today isn't help by the fact I woke up at 2:30AM and couldn't get back to sleep.

Quite what's wrong with me I'm not 100% sure.  It had some of the symptoms of a cold, but not all.

So my throat felt like I'd been gargling with razor blades, but I didn't actually get a cough.  And my head felt muggy, but I didn't have a running nose.  I also had hot and cold flushes, but they were very slow motion, rather than the quick changes you usually get when you're not well.

I'll probably be okay tomorrow, but it's all a bit annoying: I wasn't ill enough to stay home, but not really well enough to be at work.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

not for the chop

As I mentioned yesterday, I'm not getting the boot at work.

I think if I'd not been here so long and therefore not built up quite the history and track record then I would have been in a lot more trouble.  It was seen more as a moment of madness (and this is pretty much the case).

But then the flip-side to that whole point is that I wouldn't have found myself in a position for what happened to happen if I hadn't been here so long and gotten sick of it all.

Which doesn't mean I wasn't in trouble.  I will be getting an official written warning, which goes on my file, and I have to write a formal letter of apology.  And I am sorry - well, sorry for lying to one of the bosses.  That was a ridiculous and stupid thing to do.

I'm not sorry for the original event, even though that was what I then lied about.  That may seem odd - if I wasn't ashamed of it, why lie to "cover up"?  Well, the reason is that I was trying to cover up the underlying motivation for the decision I made, not the event itself.

This is what I mean about if I'd not been here so long it wouldn't have been an issue anyway.  If I hadn't known it would have been a gigantic pain in the arse doing something differently in relation to the original issue then I wouldn't have had any of the subsequent problems.

It's all a bit difficult to explain without giving proper detail, but I guess the point is I'm not suddenly going to be plunged onto the scrapheap.

It was also indicated in the meetings that there's a hope a new senior guy who's meant to be coming to the company will "turn things around".

I'm still continuing to look for a new job, though - I don't really care if this new guy really is the second coming or not, tbh.  History here suggests that even if he was, he'd achieve nothing anyway.

Monday, 3 February 2014

no change

There was no change to my weight when I weighed in on Sunday morning.

While this is disappointing on one level, it actually kinda represents me dodging a bullet.  Diet-wise, last week was very bad on the whole, but the increased exercise regime has, it seems, counteracted this.  I therefore still weigh 20 stone 9 pounds.

I'm always left wondering with weeks like last week, where one aspect goes well but the other not, what would have happened if I had done okay with that aspect rather than badly.

So why did it go badly?

Well, there were a couple of smaller things.  On Wednesday someone came in to the office and bought in a load of pastries - more than were needed for us to have 1 each.  I therefore had two.  However, also on Wednesday I do my washing and that usually means I buy some shop-bought sarnies to have for dinner, so Wednesday is not a totally good day in the first place.

On the up-side, when I do my washing I go for a short walk and on this particular Wednesday I'd already done a few reasonable walks so I was way over 10,000 steps for the day.

However, Friday was the real problem.

I'll talk about it tomorrow, but that's when I had the review meeting and it turned out I wasn't going to get fired.  As such, I kinda let things slip a little at lunch, buying some cookies.

However, I then also bought some cream cakes when I went shopping in the evening.  And I mean some cream cakes - these were full-on naughty and they were on offer, so I ended up with four of the things.  Each must have been at least 600 calories each (I didn't dare look!) and of course that was on top of the cookies.

I always buy some pain au chocolate to have on Saturday as a mini-treat, and I didn't compensate in any way for the naughty stuff, so I had these too.  Overall, then, it was a pretty bad weekend diet-wise.   I mean, I did have salad for my actual meals and of course did full walking at the weekend, so even though I consumed at least 4,000 extra calories (the best part of 2 pounds in weight-terms) my weight was unchanged.

Things should hopefully go a lot better this week.  It's odd actually, but when I first started my dieting I had some similar patterns - a really good week, followed by a non-week, so I'm not too worried I've slipped already!