Monday, 29 February 2016

Challenge Announced

After putting it off for three years, I've decided to tackle a promise I made to take on some "manly" challenges, as seen in the photo below.

The aim is to do all of these by my thirty fourth birthday on July 30th, and write up my experiences into a book which ideally will be taken by a publisher and made into a best seller, but more likely will be self published on Amazon, or failing that will simply make some content for my blog.

Now, some of these need some extra detail.  For example "Drinking" - I don't mean just drinking a large amount of alcohol, I'm thinking some sort of drinking game.  For many of the other activities there should be some sort of particular challenge that I can take on.  I'm working on ideas for these, but if you have any thoughts of what I could do - perhaps you live in the Yorkshire area and might be willing to facilitate/come along for some of them - do drop me a line in the comments.

Sunday, 28 February 2016

T*tty Papa

Got a letter through the mail with someone elses name on it today.

If you happen to know Ms T Papa (apparently she's claiming for PPI) please let me know and I'll forward the letter on.

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Europe - Brexit or Bremain?

Well, the UK Prime Minister has announced the upcoming referendum on whether the UK should remain in the EU, or not.  And now will follow four months of various "leaders" showing up in the media, explaining to us why it is imperative that we remain in / leave (delete as applicable) the EU.

The trouble is, no one knows.  Everyone will have their opinion, and may well be very forthright in their opinion.  But no one knows what will happen for sure.  I've listened to various people on both sides of the argument, and I think they both have valid points of view.

Here's some of my thoughts, for the sake of fleshing out a blog post:

  • There is a risk that if the UK remains within the EU, and the Euro currency collapses, that the UK will be forced to help bail out other countries.
  • There is a risk that if the UK leaves the EU and subsequently need financial assistance from other countries that the UK won't get help.
  • The UK contributes more money to the EU than it receives from the EU.
  • The EU is a heavily bureaucratic organisation that by definition can't have the best interests of any single member state in mind, because they have to do what is best for the whole.
  • There is strength in numbers - globally, economic power seems to be transferring to Asia, and beyond that Africa appears to be rising also.  A group such as the EU should have more ability to protect itself economically than an individual country.
  • If the UK leaves the EU, we risk triggering a second referendum in Scotland to ask if they want to remain within the UK (and subsequently bringing the UK itself to an end)
  • The view of the UK is often different to other member states, for example the UK doesn't seem to believe in closer union, and typically views immigration as a problem, whilst others can view immigration as an opportunity to gain new skills.
  • The EU can and does impose laws that the UK is required to put into force, regardless of whether we agree or not.
  • The EU looks to apply a commonality of law across the member states, so that it is easier to operate across countries.
  • If the UK left the EU it would still need to comply with EU requirements in order to trade with the EU - without any ability to influence those requirements.
  • If the UK left the EU it could jeopardise other agreements that the UK has with other EU states, for example the agreement for UK border guards to operate in Calais.
  • If the UK left the EU it could free up the UK to work on independent trade deals with other countries, such as China.
  • If the UK attempted to form trade deals with other countries, the UK may not obtain as attractive arrangements on the grounds that it is an individual country trading and not a group such as the EU.
  • The requirement to advertise contracts Europe-wide makes it impossible to reserve public contracts for UK businesses.
  • The requirement to advertise contracts Europe-wide lets the UK see opportunities in other countries.

So, for me it's not clear whether to stay or to leave is best, and I very much doubt that I'm on my own.

Let me know your views in the comments!

Monday, 22 February 2016

Medicinal Warning

I don't have a photo of myself looking unwell.  I think I was ill when this one was taken but it just looks as though I'm trying to focus on a far away object without my glasses.

 I'm out of action at the moment with some sort of infection - not proper flu, but nastier than what I'd normally class as a cold, it's spent several days making me feel headachy, tired, and just basically a bit rubbish, and now it's developed into a more traditional cold with lots of sneezing and runny nose.  My wife kindly bought me a selection of medicines to make me feel better.

Now, there's a truth lurking behind all of these medicines that you get for when you have a cold, and that is that the medicines don't really do that much.  The truth of the matter is that you are almost certain to recover from a cold by yourself, but the medicines just make you feel a bit better (and makes you think that the cold is going away - because the medicine is making you feel better!).

Anyway, one of the medicines was a pack of medicated lozenges that you suck with some kind of antiseptic compound in it.  They're very nice, but I was rather amused to read this warning on the box.

Warning: do not take if you are hypersensitive (allergic) to any of the ingredients.

Isn't that true of everything?

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

How to drive someone mad

How to drive someone mad

1) Arrange your room so that there are two computer desks, up against each other, with monitors blocking the view from one desk to another, whilst leaving enough room for one person to put their hand through.

2) Ask the other person "Would you like some chocolates?"

3) Wait for them to put their hand through, and put three chocolates into their hand (a sugar shelled chocolate like M&Ms, Revels, Minstrels or Smarties work well)

4) Let them see what's in their hand, and then ask "Would you like some more?"

5) Wait for them to put their hand back through, then take another chocolate and tap the chocolates in the other persons hand with it, so they think that you've put more chocolates in their hand.

6) Go back to step 4 and repeat until they work out what you're doing.

Well played, Mrs Raven, well played.

(PS New video uploaded - me talking about retro games, and then going off topic onto the future of gaming.)

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Guest post - Terrors Lurking in the Bathroom

Today my dad blogs on my behalf about the dangers of the smallest room.


Picture courtesy of Unsplash


Startled? I should say so! 'SHAKEN' would not be putting it too strongly either. Well, you don't expect that kind of thing early morning in your own bathroom.

I had exercised after breakfast, which is normal for me and quite un- extraordinary in any way, raised a mild sweat etc. I was pleased to have managed one whole Pull up from a dead hang position, although two Pull ups were quite beyond my current ability. Pitifully weak I agree, but a problem with the right shoulder has put me back as it were.

I have great ambitions to improve considerably!

Thereafter with blood pulsing in my veins I retired to the bathroom, washed, made a mental note to clean my teeth, brush my hair, find a clean t-shirt and.......... WHAT! ?

There on the window sill a can of deodorant stood quietly screaming in the sunlight -


Instinctively I held my breath, had I inhaled any of it?
Well no, not today, I hadn't actually used it today, but yesterday?
Maybe this was a dream and I had actually died horribly yesterday but it had slipped my mind? (a possible side effect of terminal deodorant death!)

I pinched myself. OUCH! No, that felt alive enough.

Scared now, I wondered furiously, do I dare to use the deodorant for fear of terminal lethality? Who would walk the dogs? I need to prep food for the evening meal. I haven't written my exercise diary entry for today!

I took a grip of myself, think man dammit, presumably as long as you take a deep breath, dash into the bathroom, spray, dash outside to the relative safety of the garden to gulp down clean air - whilst leaving the bathroom door and window open to vent poisonous gasses ... all should be well after say, half an hour!

Early morning exercise is fraught with dangers it seems.

Discover my parents website, - they offer all kinds of new age and magical goodies.

Thursday, 11 February 2016

XCOM Enemy Unknown replay - get involved!

I'm currently giving XCOM a bit of a replay, mainly because I haven't got XCOM 2 right now.

For the uninitiated, XCOM sets you in charge of a base funded by governments across the world to defend Earth against alien attack.  To this end, you have to send squads of highly trained soldiers to intercept alien landings all over the place, with the aim of spreading their extraterrestrial innards across floors, roads, and anything else you want.
One of my chaps is firing an assault rifle through a door at the top of an aliens head as it hides behind a counter.  Amazingly, he misses.

It's a remake of a much older game, X-Com, which was an absolute classic and has been brought back to life by various fan projects, most impressively by OpenXcom.  Indeed, I did a series of blogs 2 years ago about a playthrough of OpenXcom - well worth a read, if only to discover the cowardness of Colonel Simon.
Anyway, I've decided to have a fresh playthrough of XCOM, and blog about the adventure we have.

This is what we're dealing with.  Naked bald monsters with green guns that annoyingly fall into pieces when you shoot their owner.

Having had enough of shooting through doors and over the tops of kitchen counters, our hero changes tactic and walks around the counter. for an easier shot.

Anyway, with this playthrough, you can get involved (if you wish).  You see, each of your soldiers is customisable.

Like Arthur here.  Arthur, for example, could be given a much cooler name.

And before I start playing and blogging about it, would you like to be in it?  If you would, let me know the following:
  1. What name your character should have (e.g. your name - or if you ever wanted a cooler name, what is your cooler name that you always wanted? Maybe add a nickname, for example Mike "Ironeater" Raven)
  2. How would your character play - choose from Normal, Sneaky, Tactical, Gung-Ho, Wary, or Coward. (or give me something else if you really want - but nothing too complex!)
  3. Anything else I should know about your character.

I'll rename a character to yours, and they'll be included in progress updates as the game goes on.  So don't delay, drop me a comment below with your character!  First come first served (I don't have infinite soldiers to customise) so if you're late yours might be the reserve guy who makes the coffee while the real heroes save the planet.

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Electrical Appliances (Warning: Harsh Language!)

Be warned, this post does have a modicum of bad language.  Some people say that if you're truly funny, you don't need to swear.  If you agree, you might want to skip this post - maybe you'll like the yoga one though!

I've been thinking, on and off, about how it's funny that certain electrical appliances we "trust" more than others.

For example - when you go out of the house for a day, there are some appliances that you're happy to leave running, and others you're not. I've done my best to categorise them into trusted, somewhat trusted, and untrusted - see if you agree with my categories:

Fridges / Freezers - TRUSTED. Fridges are absolutely salt of the earth, we don't understand how they work but we're happy to travel around the world and leave it running.

Mobile phone chargers - TRUSTED
. Despite the fact that you're probably using a cheap knockoff charger off a market or from some sort of cut-price shop, because you don't want to take out a second mortgage to buy a charger made by the company that made your phone, you're happy leaving these things run at full pelt while you sleep.

Computers - SOMEWHAT TRUSTED. Computers aren't really trusted (being hot running machines with fans that suck in inflammable dust and scatter it liberally on hot internal components) but you'll leave them on if:
  1. You're running an anti-virus scan and need to go out shopping
  2. You're halfway through Call of Duty and really really REALLY need a pizza (so bad you can't wait for delivery)
  3. You hate having to wait twenty minutes for it to boot up when you turn it on
Sky box aka DVR (Digital Video Recorder) - TRUSTED. Despite having the same attributes as a computer (it's a hot box probably full of dust), you trust this enough to leave it on indefinitely, because heaven forbid you miss season three episode sixteen of CSI: Honolulu, or wherever the latest spinoff is based.

Lights - SOMEWHAT TRUSTED. You're happy for lights to be on in the house, even in rooms that you are not, but you probably turn them off when you leave the house. Except you may keep one on, so it "looks as though someone is in". So you trust that one. But none of the other buggers.

Tumble driers - UNTRUSTED. Everyone knows that tumble driers are untrustworthy bastards which are liable to catch fire the moment we step outside. We don't even like them running when we're in the house.

Washing machines - TRUSTED. somehow trusted more than driers, even though they consist of the well known magical triad of electricity, water, and heating elements.

Televisions - SOMEWHAT TRUSTED. We trust TVs on the whole, but if going away you unplug it, just in case it decides to turn itself on and burst into flames. Plus that little red standby light is really annoying.

Toaster - EVIL BLOODY UNTRUSTED DEVICE!!! Toasters are the most evil of all electrical appliances, because time and again we are convinced "this time, THIS TIME - this time, we won't burn the toast, we will set the toaster so it comes out crispy but not burned."

And we fail. Because at some point, we'll turn our back on the toaster, and the toaster furiously burns the toast as fast as it can to send out smoke, to wake up the bloody smoke alarm again.

Are there any appliances that I've missed, or do you disagree/agree with my views? Well, you know where the comments box is :)

Monday, 1 February 2016

I did Yoga and survived to tell the tale

 My wife had an idea that we should start the day off, every weekday, with a session of Yoga.  I didn't have any issue with this, I definitely could do with doing more exercise, and whilst Yoga isn't exactly two hours running, it's better than my usual morning routine, which generally involves turning the alarm off, lazing in bed when I should be getting ready, and forty minutes later running around the house getting dressed and shouting at people "WE'RE LEAVING THE HOUSE IN FIVE MINUTES! COAT! SHOES! WHERE'S YOUR BOOK BAG? NO I'M NOT IN A BAD MOOD!!!"

 So we happily got up at 6am, and put on the Yoga DVD, for a thirty minute morning workout.  My wife has done some yoga in the past, whilst I was a complete newcomer.

It started off with sitting, and breathing, and I began to lose a little confidence in the possibility that it would result in me losing twenty pounds overnight.

 And then we moved.

 And moved.

 As the workout went on the time between movements reduced, until the DVD was barking instructions along the lines of "Go into lilypad. Now ease into dragon stance. Now into breezy seaweed.  Breathe. Make sure that none of your toes are touching the ground. Go into toasted cracker.  Plank.  Soggy biscuit.  Plank.  Dead antelope. Alive antelope. Plank.  Angry caterpillar. Breathe." and it worked - at the end I definitely felt like a dead antelope, or whatever you're supposed to feel like.  It's amazingly hard work (certainly if you've never done it before) and I definitely felt my muscles afterwards.  It took me all of my strength to eat a bacon sandwich to recover.

 I'm not looking forward to tomorrow.

TOTS 100 - UK Parent Blogs
Paperblog BlogCatalog