Tuesday, 30 April 2013

wordle and bullets versus doors

Have you tried Wordle?

Wordle is a free site that you can use on an RSS or Atom Feed (like this blog has) to create word clouds, and see what words are regularly mentioned.  Check it out here http://www.wordle.net/create

To give an example, here's the word cloud for my blog:

wordle for thoggy.blogspot.com

I find some of the smaller words it picks out interesting.  Simon, for example - I had no idea I mentioned the name Simon so often.

Or vomit.

Meanwhile, adventures in Counter-Strike...

Me and Dusty had our usual gaming session the other night.  On the map CS_Assault, basically the terrorists have to protect the hostages from the counter-terrorists trying to get them.  Unusually, compared to other hostage maps, all the hostages are in a single area that can only be entered by one door, allowing the terrorists to camp behind the door and shoot anyone coming in.

Allow me to tell the story in pictures...

counterstrike source
Dusty can be seen here, guarding the door. He's getting twitchy.
counterstrike source
Dusty turns to me and says "Ok Thog, you stay here, I'm going to have a look outside!"
counterstrike source
Dusty creeps up to the door. Can he hear something?
counterstrike source
Apparently the other side can shoot through the door.

It was fun.

Future screenshots will be even better as we've both taken the plunge to buy the new Counterstrike: Global Offensive and we're getting to grips with that.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Just in time and Kids vs adults

Firstly, the serious bit.

I was interested to read an article by John Naughton in the Observer today.  He talks about a fake tweet about an explosion in the White House from a hacked news twitter account creating chaos, as automated financial systems picked up on the tweet and started selling shares making stock markets plunge (although recovered quickly again once it was realise that the news wasn't real).  He goes on to talk about just in time as a basis for business (very briefly, the principle of just getting what you need when you need it, which saves you from having to stockpile materials or goods, and makes things more efficient.

John rightly points out how fragile this is as a concept - as an example, supermarkets only have a few days of stock at any one time, so if there is a problem at any point in the supply chain they rely on as a result they are without food.  I recall a construction scheme I was involved with around two years ago, when nearing completion we were advised of a delay on one of the final elements of the build, a set of number plates to go on the fronts of houses.  When we asked why we were told it was "due to the Japan tsunami".  Unsurprisingly we challenged this, but the contractor explained the sign makers bought their sign paint from a company in Japan, and the tsunami had indeed interrupted the business of producing paint, presumably because they were busy dealing with the aftereffects of the tsunami.

Perhaps we ought to consider how reliable just in time is.  Construction projects often run over time and over cost, would it actually help to move away from just in time and stockpile more?  It might mean that we need to pay more for overheads such as site storage but would it lead to better value for money overall?

Okay, now the not so serious bit.

Why do adults have to get things that are worse for no reason?

Why is there kids "no tears" shampoo but ours stings like jimminy cricket when it goes into our eyes?

Furthermore it's easy to deal with kids bubble bath - it comes in a fun bottle with a cartoon character or a seafaring chap on!  Why is ours complicated?  You have to decide if you want to relax, or be invigorated and pick an appropriate one. I just want some bubbles.

There's too much choice when it comes to bubble bath.  The variety from one brand can be revived, rejuvenated, refreshed, calmed, stimulated, pampered, relaxed, soothed, recharged, or nourished.  Surely a lot of these are the same?  If I wanted to be rejuvenated then surely being recharged would do?  And what if I wanted to be calmed and pampered?  Do I need to mix them?

And what about medicines?  Calpol (kiddy painkiller for those non-parents) tastes nice.  Until I was forced to learn how to swallow pills due to being prescribed eleven a day at one point, I used to crunch them or open them up and empty the contents onto my tongue which tasted disgusting (and is quite dangerous - if you have pills to swallow then SWALLOW THEM!) - why can't ours be in a strawberry sauce!

Anyway, changing subject, allow me to present to you the first of many (possibly) BLOG OF THOG WORDSEARCHES!

What's the first word you spot in the wordsearch above?  Leave me a comment and let me know.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Adventures in Leeds!

 Welcome to the second of my series of "Adventures in" posts!

I went to Leeds yesterday with my dad.  We have an occasional hobby of finding and trying out new pubs - as you can imagine, this has become more difficult to do as time went on, and we exhausted the pubs locally, plus I don't have that much time now to spend visiting drinking establishments (more's the pity).  So we'd planned for a while this trip, and decided to try out Leeds.

Highlights include:

Starting our adventures at The Hop at Granary Wharf (located somewhere underneath the train station), we enjoyed a pint and a steak pie, which is something of a speciality at the Hop.  The pie came with mash, peas and gravy and was delicious.  They serve the food in a card tray and provide wooden knives and forks presumably for its environmental benefits, which my dad was quite taken with, and his set of cutlery came home with us.

The second pub we won't name (I'll just be naming the good ones!) but after wandering along the towpath for a think we found it on Wellington Road, and wasn't the best - to be fair it was more for eating than just going in for a drink, but the beer wasn't great (you could easily see bits of something - sediment? - floating around in my dad's pint) and the staff were overly keen - hovering by you, glancing over every few seconds just in case we should contemplate ordering food.  Not really the best for relaxing.

However, it did mean that it led us to the third pub, Baby Jupiter down York Place. I must admit that when we saw the sign outside, which is somewhat psychedelic, and the perfectly-normal-for-a-house-or-perhaps-a-garden-shed wooden front door, we hesitated, but trying new pubs is all about pushing your comfort zone (I know, wild eh?!?) so we ventured inside, and I'm so glad we did.

It's fantastic inside, the walls are covered in pictures and artwork, there's a huge metal dude at the end of the pub adjacent to the kitchens, one of the walls is covered in what I assume to be purple velvet, the music is eclectic (my dad described it as reggae, I'm not sure if I'd agree but he's not a million miles out) and the toilet signs are hilarious.  Plus we could sit down with our pints and play Pacman 2-player.  Definitely one to return to, it looks as though they have a lot of music nights on which I'm sure would be good. We both sampled the Kirkstall Pale Ale here (in proper beer mugs with a honest to god handle too!) and it was excellent, especially after the previous place we'd visited.  Dad ended up shaking the hand of the very friendly chap at the bar in thanks for an excellent experience.  It was shame that we were still full from lunch otherwise we'd have definitely tried the food too.
baby jupiter
Dad relaxing in Baby Jupiter - in the bottom right corner you can see the Pacman machine.

After that we visited a pub that is mostly forgettable - although in the toilets there was an advert for a scooter man - basically the idea is that you drive to the pub, enjoy yourself, and when finished you ring for scooterman who rides a scooter to you, puts the scooter (it's a fold up one) in your boot and drives you home in your car.  I thought that was quite a good idea - saves paying for a taxi (at least one way)

The next pub again was excellent, very different to Baby Jupiter but just as good - the White Swan.

We stumbled across the White Swan by glancing down an alley that we were walking past, on doing so I spotted a sign for a shop selling crystals and being vaguely intrigued decide to investigate.  As we went down the alley we found that opposite the shop was the White Swan.  The pub has a nice interior, lots of lightness making it feel quite airy and open, arty posters up on the walls, a bookcase full of books to meander through in one of the little alcoves (I'm going by my dads description right now - I wasn't wearing my glasses so couldn't see that far) plus we had the ability to try three real-ales for £3.30 (which we both did!)

leodis in the white swan
It is to my shame that I didn't try the Leodis so I don't know if it's good or not!

We spent a while in the White Swan, having a coffee before trying the ales on offer in an effort to rebuild our constitutions - dad managed to get lost in the toilets but made his way back in the end.  He spent a while writing up notes about the journey so far, and I'm sure he would be able to give much more detail about the pubs than I can remember!

dad in the white swan
Dad writing notes about the pubs so far.  It's amazingly how quickly we were able to forget details about the pubs!

Being able to try various real ales without having to commit to tasting full pints is excellent and something more pubs should do - as you can see in the picture below we were able to try six different beers for under seven pounds, and had some pleasant surprises as a result.  The dark beers were better than I expected (not being a fan of dark beers - Midnight Bell stands out to me as being ) and the Yorkshire Gold reminded me and my father strongly of Deuchars IPA (one of our favourite beers but one that pubs often don't look after properly, spoiling the taste) - a testament to both the brewers and the White Swan for keeping it well.

Dad taking care of approximately 189 millilitres of dark mild.

Special mention goes to the White Swan for their chips which we also ordered to help deal with the alcohol - very nice (although more vinegar and salt required - bear in mind though that when I have chips generally I put so much vinegar on that if you breathe in the air above them you cough!)

We finished the day off in the Packhorse - again a perfectly reasonable pub, a little livelier than we'd probably like but to be fair it was teatime on a Friday afternoon, and the bar staff again were very friendly.  All in all an excellent day and one we hope to repeat!  Apologies to all that offered recommendations on places to try in Leeds, the day ended up being us more or less walking aimlessly around the city centre stumbling across places.  I did hope to get nearer to the universities but didn't make it this time - perhaps the next!

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Adventures in London

I'm typing this post having just got home, bottle of Lambrini open and devouring a bar of Cadbury's Dairy Milk with Jelly Popping Candy Shells (well worth a try although my other half hates them), unwinding from the last thirty hours or so.

I've been in London at a work conference (which was very good) and it's been an adventure.

Firstly, the train.  I love how train companies (I assume all do it, maybe its just my local operator) take the idea of assigning seats by carriage (identified by letter) and then by a number corresponding to a seat in that carriage.

And then throw a twist in.

You get a seat number along the lines of "C 09 F" - C meaning carriage C, 09 meaning seat 9, and F which means Front or Back (depending on which way the seat is facing), and it's this last letter that mixes it all up.

Because although they have the numbers printed on the walls of the carriage, the only way to know if 9 is 9F or 9B is by checking the small card reservation note stuck into the top of the seat, which isn't always the easiest thing to do when you're having to lean over someone already seated to do it and you've got about twenty people stuck behind you waiting for you to sit down so they can find their own seats.

The other thing I love is the reservations.

On my train down to London pretty much every seat in the carriage had a reservation card, including the one next to mine.  I assume (because it's not inexpensive to travel from Hull to London - less so however when I'm travelling as it's off-peak) that if you've reserved a seat you're going to use it.

Now when I bought my rucksack I (not having a carriage to hand to test it) wasn't aware that it's slightly too big to fit in the overhead shelf on a train, and although they do remind you "Do not leave baggage on seats" I must admit I prefer to keep hold of my bag rather than leave it at the end of the carriage in the baggage bit.

So as a result, at every stop on the way my stress mounts up as more people board the train, who may have reserved the seat that my bag is occupying.  Fortunately no one has (or they're too polite to ask me to move my trespassing bag) so I make it down to London still in ownership of my bag.

Here's comes my G4C plug - Tuesday night I met with Matt Armitage, chair of the national G4C (Generation For Change) board.  Basically had a great meeting, good talk about G4C and how different regions have different challenges, and was very useful for me (hopefully Matt got something out of it too).

So after meeting Matt, I headed for my hotel.

Now my hotel, although certainly not a seven star extravaganza such as Burj Al Arab, was quite a decent place, being in the heart of London, so I was prepared to have a reasonable overnight stay there, perhaps expecting it to be a tad nicer than some of the places I've experienced in the past (although thinking about it for £10 a night what do you expect).

So I went in, and queued up to check in.  Now this took quite a while, the staff at the checkout desks obviously go into plenty of detail when helping you so although it was annoying because it was getting on for 9 o'clock at night and all I really wanted was a shower, I comforted myself with the fact that I'd get a decent service when it was my turn (and tried to ignore the VIP / Special Club Hotel desk thing at the side of the normal check in where people were fast-tracked).

Eventually they got to me, I gave them my reservation details, and they dished out an electronic key and useful information.

I headed up to the sixth floor where my room was, eventually found my room as only every other corridor had signs pointing you where to go, and tried the key.

It didn't work.

Tried again.

Still nothing.

I went back downstairs, queued up a second time, possibly even longer than the first time, and again was seen.  The hotel chappie apologised, fixed the key, and gave it back.

Back up to the sixth floor.

Back to the room.

Straight in this time.  And I was impressed.  The room was lovely.

 "Yes, this'll do nicely," I'm thinking, "a bit of a shower and then maybe a beer..." my train of thought was interrupted as I walked through to where the bed was.
 Unless the hotel provided a complimentary service of a bag and clothes, and spread them out on the bed for you, I was in someone elses room.

 Back downstairs.

 Queued up a third time.  I'm starting to get a little annoyed.  As I was waiting who I presume was a manager of some sort was asking the people waiting if they were checking in, I explained the situation and she apologised (but didn't take me to one of the empty desks and sort me out or anything crazy like that)

 Got up to the reception guy, who was now possibly wondering if I was about to strike him.
 "The key works!" I assured him, "it's just that someone already has that room."
 Which appeared to blow his mind.
 And the mind of his supervisor.
 "So why aren't you happy with your room?" his supervisor inquired.
 "I'm very happy with the room," I explained, "it's just that someone else is already in it."

 I get assigned a room on the tenth floor.

 This time I get to the room, I get inside, everything is fine.  The room is empty of objects except for those owned by the hotel and those owned by me, it's all good.

 I decide to have a well-earned shower.

 I can't work out how to work the bath shower.  The bath has a shower attachment on a hose, but I can't see where I fix it to use it as a shower and I can't work out how to turn it on.
 Fine - I'll have a bath.
 Why is it that hotels never provide anything to wash your hair with?  I don't mean shampoo (of which there is plenty, despite the fact that I always bring my own), I mean a jug or some kind of container to allow you to rinse your hair with.  We (as I'm sure many people do) at home have a measuring jug just for washing your hair with.  I've often wondered why John Lewis or one of these nice home shops don't sell fancy containers for ten pounds that are fluorescent and made out of space-age plastic that is friendly to dolphins or made out of old car tyres or something, specifically for the purpose of rinsing your hair.
 I have my bath.
 As I get out my bath, something across the room catches my eye.
 It is a shower cabin.

 (As an aside, this is all being written post-trip because I can't work the keyboard on my fiancee's Kindle Fire to save my life.  It has bizarre predictive software built in, and it doesn't recognise swearing.  My tablet (a rather nice Samsung Galaxy) is at home because it's loaded up with videos for my son.  The things parents do for their kids!)

(As another aside, I have this massive wine glass which is great.  You can fit half a bottle of Lambrini in it.  I've emptied it once and am now putting the second bottle of my bottle of Lambrini in it.

Why Lambrini?  It's got a low alcohol content and I really fancy some wine.  I'm drinking in total 5.6 units, which although it is higher than the recommended daily maximum, I justify this by the fact that I'm only going to drink three days this week and usually once drink once a week, when I'm having my weekly gaming session with Dusty)

 I've changed clothes, it's about half past 9, and I'm now starting to feel a little bit more human.  Although I need to head for bed in an hour or so, I could grab a beer beforehand, I think.
 The phone rings. I answer it with the ever useful "Hello?".  A somewhat stern voice responds.
 "Hello sir.  You have left your bag and your clothes in another room.".  My heart sinks a little.
 "No, I haven't.  I have one bag and it's with me."
 "Yes you have sir.  The concierge has been in and found a map with your name on it."
 This amuses me.  Okay, let's play, I think to myself.
 "What's my name then?" I challenge the caller.
 "I'm sorry sir?"
 "What's my name?"
 "One moment sir... Brian..."
 "No.", I cut him off abruptly. "My name is Michael Raven." I tell the guy firmly.
 I don't use my full first name often.  I prefer Mike.  A usual comment I'll use is that if you want to tell me off then use Michael because you can put more venom into Michael. Try it if you like.  Repeat after me...
 The hotel person then goes with "How do you spell that sir?"
 Again, something that 99% of the time I don't mind.  But because I'm already tired and frustrated, this also annoys me.  Michael is not an unusual name.  I am given to believe (both history and religion are not strong topics for me) that it came from Hebrew and features in the Bible.  Many countries use it, or a variation of it.
 And I don't feel that Raven is that ridiculously hard to spell either.  It might not be the most common surname, but it isn't that rare, and is, I feel, a fairly easy one to work out.
 I spell my name for the sake of completeness. The hotel person apologises and finally hangs up.
 To round the night off I head for the bar and get stung by purchasing a small bottle of Stella Artois for £4.95.  Reading a menu later I discover that it is actually £4.40, but with a 12.5% tip automatically included.

 I might have been tempted to leave the tip off this time.

 Final note on the hotel - NO BISCUITS IN THE HOTEL ROOM.  Seriously?!?  Even in a basic hotel, a little pack with two biscuits in is a given.  Shocking.

  The conference I attended I won't linger on except to say that it was very good (very interesting discussion about Project Bank Accounts and if you ever want a chat about them please feel free to get in touch) but it did include plenty of breaks for networking.

 I've been trying to work out if I'm an introvert or an extrovert.  In the past I've always considered myself introvert, but then when I get to do a presentation or an event I enjoy getting up in front of the group and doing my piece, which sounds very much like extrovert behaviour to me.

 But I really hate networking.

 I don't mean that.  I like talking to people, of course I do.  It's nice to talk to people.  And I've got a lot of value out of networking.  But going up to someone I don't know and starting a conversation I find extremely difficult.  Instead I find myself circling the room, glass of water in hand, eyeing up various exhibits for a while, before retreating to consider the artwork adorning the walls.  Thinking about it, it's actually quite similar to how I act in a nightclub, although the water would be replaced with a cola.  I guess it's something I need to work on.

 Last mention for the post is about London.  Everyone is rushing and vaguely cross in London, they all need to be somewhere 5 minutes ago.  The exception today being the group of French teenagers I came across somewhere in the underground, one of which burst out saying "Oh my god I saw Harry Potter!" - I presume he didn't mean me, although I have been referred to as the bespectacled wizard in the past I would have thought that the beard would have resolved that problem.

 On the way home I was actually cheered up on the train by seeing someone walk down the carriage in a Hull hoodie.

 It's not all bad is it?

Sunday, 21 April 2013

A rant video and condensed milk

I've got a new video up!  I had the house to myself last night so spent the time recording a rant about cleaning the attic.  Check it out below:

(If you like it, why not visit my YouTube channel and subscribe!)

In other news, my other half has succeeded in handling the tricky problem of the six pint milk bottle.

We've had a six pinter in the fridge for a few days now.  Because it's so large, we've had to store it horizontally, with a tub of houmous underneath the top end so that it's angled sufficiently for the milk not to leak out.

Anyway, now that the bottle is sufficiently empty, this happened to it:

crushed milk bottle
Witnesses wanted for cruel attack on milk bottle

So now it fits!

"I'll never be the same again" the poor victim said.

Final news - been playing the new Counterstrike: Global Offensive.  It's great and is a huge improvement on previous Counterstrikes, yet is essentially just tinkering with the old formula.  There's one or two new weapons, a few new maps, but a lot of the game will be familiar to you if you played the old Counterstrike games, which isn't necessarily a bad thing - at least you aren't at a disadvantage to people that have learned the new maps because everyone remembers de_dust!!

Friday, 19 April 2013



I always feel more creative in a morning.

That is, when I'm not running around getting ready for work and/or looking after my son.

So to be more precise I feel more creative in a morning roughly once a fortnight.


Also I'm better at Candy Crush Saga in a morning - just finished a level that I've been stuck on for like a week.

On with the post!

Firstly, we've got a new G4C event going ahead in Leeds on May the 9th, from 5.30pm.  G4C, you may be aware, is about the new generation of construction sector workers entering the profession, be they newly qualified and recently started work, or still students.  This event we're looking at how to manage risk and avoid disputes in construction, particularly relating to contracts.  Contracts are extremely important in construction and not being aware of how a contract should operate can skew the costs, for any party involved in a contract, significantly, and create a lot of extra work for everyone.

As I say it's a free event so if you're interested in attending register at http://g4cyorksmay13.eventbrite.co.uk/

I spotted an article on Yahoo today about the worlds oldest person, in Japan, has just turned 116.  Not that I want to be overly morbid, but I do think it's beneficial to bear in mind your own mortality.

We all were born.  And we will all die (excluding the possibility of Google Reincarnation, where Google sends nanites around your body to accurately and exactly map its state, and then activates it as a psuedo-living being on a server somewhere that your descendants can interact with for free - as long as you're happy to see an advert for Google Adwords first).  I'm - to my mind - a fairly cautious individual.  And I've been able to better balance my decisions with the thought "well I'm only going to be around for another 50-60 years maximum, so if I want to do something, and there isn't any REALLY bad sideeffects such as blowing the house up, lets do it" so I've been able to use it to make better decisions and be more extrovert as a result.

And of course when we die, that isn't really the end.  Our actions while alive will go on to have their effect in the future.  The people we were nice to, the things we helped create, the actions we took, the world we improved, will carry on.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Carry guns - but not real ones

As a general rule, I try to avoid having a serious point to my blog posts.  That's not what my blog is about.  It's main purpose is to satisfy my need to be creative, and hopefully it entertains some people along the way.

But here we go anyway.

So, the US Senate has blocked a plan to carry out background checks on people that want to buy guns.

Interesting, isn't it?  How different countries approach issues?

In this country, for example, when I was to help out with groups of schoolkids doing cycling proficiency training, I had to have a CRB (Criminal Record Bureau) check to ensure that I was safe to work with children.  Personally at the time I felt it was a little over the top, because I wouldn't be alone with a child, but then I wasn't a parent then, and as a parent now I'm automatically more cautious about my son and who spends time with him.

And yet in other countries, people are welcome to carry around chunks of metal that cause death by pointing it at someone and pressing a trigger - without checks!  Fascinating.

I haven't done the research as to why owning guns increases the risk of people being killed (it kind of seems obvious to me - Cracked did some work on it though) but it seems fairly obvious to me.

We all have emotions.  We have good days, and bad days.

Some people have really bad days.

If you're having a really bad day for whatever reason - it could be that you are more prone, for whatever reason, to suffer really really tough days, or it could be that something really bad has happened to you - would you want to have access to a gun and the ability to use it?

Personally, no way.  I generally consider myself to be fairly level-minded and I do try to look after my own wellbeing (mental health is generally overlooked when people consider their health) but regardless of that, I wouldn't want a gun in the house because I wouldn't want to be responsible for it.  Being able to cause death that easily is not an ability I want.

 "But you play games with guns!" people may cry.  Indeed, I do.  I've posted links on my blog (and will again - probably this week because I'm buying Counterstrike: Global Offensive!) of photos where I've 'killed' someone, or more commonly where they've 'killed' me.  But it doesn't mean that I want to have a real gun to do it.  And if you think video games create violence - have a read of this.  I can find a session of Modern Warfare 3 to be a relaxing way to offload some stress.  It doesn't make me want to carry around a selection of weaponry in real life.  If you wanted to, you could argue that chess is violent as essentially two armies fight it out to 'kill' the other sides king. It doesn't mean that your argument is logical.

So, that's my view for what it's worth.  I don't think myself guns should be available to the general public (as funny as it was to watch a guy shooting his daughters laptop - I'd rather sell the thing as a punishment).  Of course there's a risk for the guns that are already out there being used, but we've got tightly controlled restriction on guns in the UK since 1997 (but still there's a lot of opportunity for people to own a gun if they really want to), and we have one of the lowest rates of gun homicide in the world.  I wouldn't for a moment say that the UK is perfect because it isn't, but at least guns aren't something that I worry about when my son goes to nursery.

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Early One Morning

Thankfully, because I'm quite tired (busy at work) today my dad has stepped up and delivering a cracking guest blog post - enjoy!


Early One Morning.

Listen …. Time passes ….. ever so quietly. Sleepy souls slumber almost silently, unaware of times quiet, steady tread. Soft embracing shadows lull errant thoughts of wakefulness into silence. Morning arrives with no ado about anything, no alarm calls, no birdsong, no sunrise beckoning the sleepers away from their comforting cuddly bed. For a timeless long while sweet darkness holds all safe in it’s arms.

An idle thoughts wafts murmuring through one sleep befuddled brain …. I wonder?

Barely focussed eyes glace at the clock – 5:10 am … time to get up!

Another, more vigorous soul nearby me sits upright and in yawning fits and starts, gathers itself and miraculously stands, and then makes its way downstairs. Why must she dash about so, it’s still the middle of the night! The sleepy soul still abed closes its eyes ever so briefly, soon, soon it too will also have to rise and greet the day.

All is quiet, then the dogs make excited noises as their mistress half stumbles through the kitchen gloom, gathers a kaftan and a handful of dog biccies for eager canines.
My word they are excited, yips and woofs abound, you’d think they’d never been fed before. Goodness me hounds, what a noise  - “EERRRGGHHHHH!”

Thinks are thought in the embracing darkness …. That, that almost sounded like Christine …..

……… (bare seconds pass.. and with a note of urgency now …

“Erm ……”


I rise and struggle to throw off the befuddled charms of sleep

Christine sits on the kitchen stool mentally screaming for someone to cut her right foot off asap…

With astounding talent my better half had managed to walk through the kitchen in complete darkness and complete safety, only then to put the light on and stand in erm … (readers of a sensitive disposition look away now).

Christine has a minor flaw in her character, she cannot handle vomit.
No way, don’t even think about it. The possible options are –

1)      There is no such thing as vomit, it doesn’t exist.
2)      If it does exist anywhere close by, she will join in and add to it.

I cleaned her right foot, thereby gaining extra brownie points all day long.
I strongly suspect China – the larger of two, very fluffy Rough Collies we live with. She habitually eats anything she can find with little regard as to whether it is food or not and had decided that a snack of dog grass was required to settle her belly.
Sleep had most definitely ended!

Sunday, 7 April 2013

I love you milk

Myself, my other half and my son went round to the mother-in-laws for a coffee this afternoon.

Whilst there, while I was making drinks in the kitchen, my other half calls me through to the living room and tells me, "I taught our son to say I love you!", to which I came back with the theoretically funny, "He already does say that, just not to you!"
 Get it?  I made the joke that my son loved me more.
 Okay, it was the best joke I could think of at the time.
 She continues, "No, he does, look!".  She turned to our little one.
 "I love you." she told him.  He turned from his television programme, smiled, and said "I love you." to his mother, before turning back.
 Obviously I needed to prove that I am also worthy of my sons affection, so I knelt down at the other side of him, and said "I love you."
 He glances at me and the bottle of semi-skimmed in my hand, and tells me "Want milk."
 And then goes back to watching Squiglet.

 Kids eh?

 Supermarkets are cunning, aren't they?  I only realised today one of their evil plans.

 Bags for life.

 The idea makes sense, of course.  If you pay a few pence, you get a better quality, stronger bag, that you can re-use.  It's better for the environment than continually getting new bags and throwing the old ones away.

 And they tempt you to get them by promising that if you return the bag when it's worn out, you get a new one, free of charge.

 Of course the reality is that they know that they are dealing with British people here.

 See this bag?

bag for life

 My gran has been using this to store her recycling in, and empties it when full into her recycling bin.

 Would you really want to go into Waitrose with a bag with a massive hole in, that the inside of which is stained from the contents of not quite empty bottles leaking out, and one of the handles is a bit sticky, give the cashier it and request a replacement?

 Of course not.  So you go and buy another one.

 Sneaky sneaky supermarkets.

Friday, 5 April 2013

Polish takeaway is awesome

Polish takeaway is awesome.

That's all I have to say.

Actually it isn't, which is a good job otherwise I'd be a really bad blogger (rather than just a mediocre one).

polish takeaway zrazy wolowe

I had zrazy wolowe with a side order of beetroot soup, while my other half had kotlet devollay.  The beetroot soup was really spicy and tasty, and the zrazy wolowe (rolled pork chop fillet filled with sausage, cucumber and onion) was great, was covered in gravy and came with various shredded vegetables which weren't immediately easy to identify (cabbage and carrot was in there) but all tasted far better than you'd expect.  Cheap too (under £15 for both of us, delivered) and very filling.  It's all good.

I went to a debate held by Platform Expos about what they're doing Thursday night.  Basically they're looking at building a hub for games development in the Humber region, and the debate was about how people can get involved to help support what they're doing - check out the photos from the night here.  They're doing loads of things, from supporting groups of developers to running LAN parties, setting up a sort of games review and news channel called Platform Play, all kinds of great stuff.  Very very interesting and I'll keep posting news from them as it happens.

Have you subscribed to Blue Xephos aka The Yogscast on YouTube?  If not you should, if you like gaming and you like to laugh.  According to their website, "Lewis founded The Yogscast in 2008, with the goal of sharing Simon’s gift for inane banter with the world via YouTube" and I can confirm that the banter is inane and extremely funny.  I first came across them in a series of videos they were doing playing the game Magicka with TotalBiscuit, it's just brilliant how Simon panicks.  Very sorry to Simon if you read this (unlikely though that is!) - but you are ace.  Thanks for making me laugh.  Possibly their most well known work is their various works involving Minecraft, I particularly like the below episode where they build a particle accelerator, and fire an anti-gravity missile - I never expected it to be so funny :)

Anyway - enough from me.  Have fun and next time you have a takeaway - why not try a Polish one?

Wednesday, 3 April 2013


I've had a few people say that they've had trouble leaving comments on my blog.  Comments has been a bit of a tricky one for me, because I want it to be easy, but I don't want to have to deal with the many spambots on the Internet looking for websites that they can fill with junk text.

So, if you want to comment on this blog, scroll down to the bottom and you'll find a text box to type in.

Type your comment.

Click on the drop down list where it says "Comment As".  If you have one of the accounts mentioned, you can sign in with that.  Alternatively, hit the last option, Anonymous.

Hit Publish.

The website will pop up with a word verification thing that looks like this:


So in the example above, type in the new text box

465 coomsd

Hit Publish and your comment should appear.

Last time I spoke to my mother she complained about this blog post of mine.  Apparently she really likes coffee chocolates and the only thing that she can get them in nowadays is Revels.

She's clearly wrong, but do feel free to comment.

In other news, myself and Dusty had another session of CS: Source - we're playing on a server called "Counter-Strike Source by Dodi-Serv" which always seems to be empty so we get to play each other with a bot sidekick.

Check out our previous adventures here, but here's a few screenshots from last night:

Dusty's bot Zim was pretty tough. And when I did kill him, you can see what happened.

Two people - one bullet. I love the Bullpup.

Reed was a significant problem for some time.

Monday, 1 April 2013

April fools and CS Source fun

Firstly, my blog blasted through 5000 views.  Thanks to everyone who's taken their time to come and check it out.  Do by all means subscribe (if you want to and have an RSS feeder) and indeed if you just can't get enough (unlikely I know) there is my YouTube channel as well, which has reached the heights of four subscribers (hi Krause House of Cards and Games) - you could be number five!  Exciting eh.

Quick as an aside - here in the UK 80s/90s hit PJ & Duncan has rocketed back to the top of the charts with their song "Let's Get Ready to Rhumble" (I did have their album so no PJ & Duncan haters please) - but check out the picture below.

It's not that clear on the small image above (but click on it and you should get a full-size one) but I like how the number one picture is really pixelated, probably because they've had to find a picture of the single on the Internet.  It's all good.

I'm not doing an April Fools today (although I did try to convince my other half that World of Warcraft patch 5.3 included a PvP Boxing arena and that it would be called Fists of Pandaria), all I'll say is that I knew straight away that Google Nose was fake.  Obviously Google can't transmit some kind of smell to you without you having some kind of smell-generating hardware.

Mmm... the smell of an empty beer bottle

I totally didn't smell my screen just in case.

So anyway...

The other day, we went shopping.  And we bought a lot of things.

But it was Good Friday and the shops were packed with people, which has the effect of stressing me out, so I tend to rush around the shop, get everything I can as quickly as possible so I can then get out of there.

As a result, when I packed the shopping, I hadn't brought my A-Game with me.

The bread didn't do too well.

And then I got told off for buying the wrong sort of bread anyway.

Me and my best mate (Dustyweaver) played some CS: Source the other night.  Had a great time on an empty server where bots were activated so that there was a minimum of 2 people on each side, so we were basically versus each other with a bot sidekick.

The first map we played was a bomb map, and while Dusty had the trusty Jeff at his side, I had Tyler.

Tyler was the Chuck Norris of bots.  Generally ignoring me, he would basically venture out, tooled up, and waste both Dusty and Jeff without any help from me.  In ten rounds he died once.  That clues you into just how tough Tyler was.

Yeah. Tyler became Dusty's nemesis.  And stayed his nemesis.  I'm in the green outfit on the right, feeling a little uncomfortable at being the sidekick of a computer-controlled terrorist.

Dusty's ally Jeff, on the other hand, wasn't really the sharpest bot on the Internet.  He used the tactic of running around with a shotgun, firing at us at long range with that well-known sniper ability of a shotgun, and pretty much missed everything.  That is, except when he got close up.

Then he changed to a pistol.  Because a shotgun wouldn't work would it?

Even with a pistol, Jeff the Bot occasionally got lucky.  But not very often.
The best moment I remember was when both me and Dusty were dead, the bomb was planted at a bomb site and Tyler was defending.  Me and Dusty watched Jeff jog up, pistol in hand, stand next to Tyler, pistol basically in Tyler's ear, and then decide to go and defuse the bomb.  Tyler, unsurprisingly alerted to Jeff's presence by feeling a pistol rub against his head, turned round and blew Jeff away.

Here's a few screenshots from later maps.

Me having killed Dusty and his bot mate John.  His bot friend, when faced with me, turned around and ran at Dusty, blocking his view.  So I could slaughter them both in a row.  Thanks John the Bot!

When I had Jeff the Bot on a later level, he was ace.  He carried a rifle and everything.
Cory the Bot I suspect was the reincarnation of Tyler.

In the end me and Dusty ended up on the same time, facing two bots.  We didn't do very well.

Me and Dusty are thinking about doing some shows on YouTube where we talk about games, we'll do it as a live stream.  Nothing planned at this point but I'll keep you informed.  Any suggestions feel free to get in touch.
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