Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Aching muscles and iPod innards...

So, what have I been doing the past few days...

Well, I've been spending a lot of time in the gym - 90 minutes per day to be exact, and I've been making sure that I get a good workout because I need to be at the top of my game when time comes to go to the recruit selection center. I come home exhausted every evening, and wake up feeling battered and achy, but it's worth it.

In other news, my iPod video screen shield (the plastic cover, not the screen itself) cracked for some reason unknown to me. So I decided to order a replacement plastic cover, and fit it myself rather than asking Apple to do it for me, for many £££.

The front cover arrived today, so as soon as I got home from the gym, I got on with fitting it. The process involved stripping the ipod almost the way down to each individual component, to get the front cover off which oddly enough, is actually held on by everything else attached to it. I'm not going to go into loads of detail, but the long and short of it is that it's the most difficult part to get off, despite actually being on the front.

Anyway, never having done anything like this before, with only a brief instruction video that I found on youtube, as well as the green plastic case opening tool which was thoughtfully provided by the seller of the front cover, I set about disassembling the iPod.
Or rather, I set about trying.

What it doesn't show you on the video, is the fact that not only is the front actually incredibly difficult to get off, but also the fact that the apparently super sharp green plastic iPod opener thingies are cunningly fashioned from some type of cheese, and are therefore completely useless when it comes to anything other than snapping, rounding their ends off, or bending beyond being useful. Perhaps I was doing something wrong...

Anyway, I got the ipod in bits on my desk, at which point my sense of purpose abandoned me, and as if waking from a dream, I found myself sat in front of my dismembered gadget, with the murder weapon in my hand. Reflecting for a minute or so on the horror of what I'd done, I swore to turn my butcher's hands into those of a surgeon. ]

I followed the procedure which was pretty uneventful. At least it was until I not only accidentally removed the cable retaining clip from the hard disk, but bent one of the connecting pins on the hard disk in my efforts to get it back on.
It went back on.
So with trepidation, I finally reassembled my iPod with its new cover, and pressed Menu.

Nothing.
At all.
Then the screen went black.
Then a white apple appeared on the screen.
Which turned silver as the screen lit up.

And then the system menu came up, complete with all my songs and videos. The transplant was a success, and my iPod was ALIVE!

So I'm bloody glad I've got that sorted, I can tell you :).

Here's a few pics anyway :), take care :).













Thursday, October 25, 2007

More dental torture...

PROLOGUE:

I've spent most of the day in bed, having gone to bet at a fairly late 6am. And yes.
I've got another dental appointment today :(.

So shortly, I've got to go to the dentists to be subjected to more inhumane and punishing dental procedures.

Oh well. I'll come back to let you know how it went - no doubt in 90 minutes time i'll be happier than I am now. I hope!

UPDATE - 16:56

90 minutes?
Well, not exactly.

I got there in good time, conveniently forgetting to sign myself in, so no one actually knew I was "there" even though I was sat in the waiting room.

I got there at 15:20, as I was instructed, but they were evidently busy because I wasn't seen until 15:55. I suppose that was the worst bit. I'm sat there in the waiting room, a glazed look on my eyes, staring into space, terrifying myself over what I was getting myself into (I didn't and still don't like going to the dentists).

From outside, came the sound of work that was being carried out on the building. The sound of grinding drills drilling holes in the masonry, and the sound of angle grinders cutting up the concrete slabs outside. Despite my mood, I managed to pipe up "I bloody hope that's coming from outside, not inside".
It got a better reaction than I expected. Still, I spose you had to be there.

Eventually I got called in, settled in very quickly, and laid down on the chair.
Admittedly, it was probably the fastest in-out dentistry i've had. It felt like about 10 minutes, drill drill drill, quick three holes, filled them up quick, not a problem and absolutely nothing to worry about.

So i've been booked in in two weeks time to have my teeth polished. Something which now, having read about it, I'm not 100% looking forward to.
Still, at least no more holes in my mouth anymore :).

On a different note, after watching my weight go up and up, with great alarm (12 stone 7 pounds (79.3Kg) at its highest), I've gone on a diet, and combined that with the increasing amount of physical work that I'm doing to get fit for the army.
Oh yes. The army.

That's now all back on track, they sent me a letter asking me to get in touch so I dropped into the recruiting center, where the sergeant who's been dealing with me tells me he's actually been trying to contact me. I explain the situation, that I need to see a physio to get my leg sorted, and that I'm still eager, excited, and looking forward to starting my phase one.

Speaking of phase one, I found a video by a lad that went and did the first five weeks of his phase one before leaving. Admittedly he missed out most of his training, but the bit that he did do and the general atmosphere is described pretty well, so if you want to know what it's likely to be like for me, here's the link.
Of course, I'm going to be less homesick because I'm older, and I've already spent time living away from home :).

So yeah. Good day all in all I spose. half of my mouth is still numb which is driving me nuts, but hey, It'll wear off.

Friday, October 12, 2007

UNDER CONSTRUCTION

Just to let those of you with RSS feeds know - the post below, "holidays" is going to be edited over the next week as a single post - I want that one single post to detail my entire holiday.

As a result, your RSS feeds may not show that my blog has been updated, when in fact it has. I would ask you to check back regularly, to read the "holidays" post - it should be updated by me every day, or every other day, until next friday when I go back to work.

Thanks!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Holidays!

Okay, so I've now got some, some might say, well deserved time off work. So...

What am I going to do with my time off - some 13 days?

Well, I have no plans at the minute, so I'll just fill you in on what's been happening.

Saturday: So hometime rolled around at 15:30 and I got all my stuff packed up ready for the trip from work to home, and I've got to admit, I felt a certain melancholy set in roundabout then - far from being eager to get away, I'm kinda gonna miss my work colleagues - at least some of them - as I've got quite a lot of friends there. I got home, had a little nap, woke up, didn't have anything to drink (no money!) and went back to bed. Special offer on this one ladies and gentlemen, it's going cheap, anyone wanna bid on saturday?

Sunday: I woke up reasonably early, when my nephew (who lives in a different house so I was kinda surprised to see him there) wandered into my room and told me that dinner - a full family thing - everyone except my brother and his other half anyway - would be ready in 15 minutes - not bad for a 3 year old. Of course, in my family, "dinner will be ready in 15 minutes" translates loosely into "dinner will be ready in about 25 minutes, can you please come down and set the table". A point I mentioned on my way to the dining room.
Anyway, it was a nice meal, my mum's good sunday dinner, lots of everything, potatoes, yorkshire puddings, slices of cheese sauce (my mum traditionally makes the cheese sauce so thick, that you have to scoop it out with a spoon), and lots of gravy etc - lovely. Joining us (my parents and I) were my grandad, my sister and my nephew - so it was a full table.
After the meal, my nephew demanded I set his brio train up, so after about 30 minutes of debating with him where all the track needed to be set, I ended up with a 4x3M track, which I was pretty pleased with - at this point, his mum came along and told him that it was time to go - ALWAYS as I'm just finishing setting the track up. Okay, so he wasn't too happy but I've consoled him with the fact that I'll be getting my R/C helicopter back in the air ASAP so he can watch it fly about next time he comes. This, along with a couple of jelly babies seemed to placate him, and off he and his mum went. I had a fairly sedentary night, watched TNG and voyager most of the night and chilled out with a fistful of beer (4 cans in their plastic can holder).

Monday: I eventually got bored and went to sleep at 6am.
At 7am my mum came in - family emergency - my nephew was ill (don't worry he's fine!) and as such my sister's babysitter wouldn't have him near the rest of the kids - fair enough. Unfortunatley, my sister had to go to university, my parents had to go to work, and in true ME fashion, I was the only one who could possibly care for my nephew.

So, here I am, 09:24 on monday morning. I'm sat here in my sister's house next to a half full cup of cold coffee, my nephew is happily playing in the room next to me - making whooshing noises with his train set - evidently a rocket powered train.

And then we have the cats. Tommy and Tigsy - black/white, and tabby, respectively, and they're little superstars, really affectionate, playful and er kitten-like.
They're both vying for my attention, and they've definitley got it. Tommy is obsessed with flinging a bit of foam around with his claws, Tigsy - until just now, was curled up in my lap asleep, occasionally aggressively defending his resting place by turning into a whirlwind of claws whenever tommy came nearby - more often than not, catching me in the middle.
In an incredibly cute moment of curiosity, Tommy is checking out my nephew's electronic train playset which has four buttons set into the track - the idea is that as the train rolls over them, various sound effects are triggered.
Well Tommy is now sat in the middle of the oval track, pressing these buttons accidentally, and looking mighty confused when a sound of a cockerel crowing or birds singing comes from the train set . He was looking wistfully at the gulls flying over the house earlier. I fear however that despite his 16 (technically 20 if you count the thumbs, which are halfway up a cat's arm and used only for shooting rubber bands at people) sharp claws, the gull would eat him for breakfast.

So anyway, I'm gonna leave you in peace and check out how many times I've been bitten by fleas - I think the cats have been frontlined (frontline is a flea medication), but I know for sure that I haven't. I think I've been bitten about four times now. Bleah.
Anyway, I'll keep you updated!
















Ok, so as time went on, my ickle nephew's behaviour steadily worsened. Instead of getting more tired, he seemed to get more hyper. Starting by toddler-handling the cats, trying to picking them up by their tails, trying to use them as cushions etc. I managed to placate the little dude by sticking CBeebies (kids tv shows) on, which worked for a while. Eventually though, I found myself rehanging the curtains he pulled down (on top of the cats), picking up the bits of orange peel he left everywhere, and eventually, convinced him to take part in a little game, where I firmy tied him up and dared him to see how quiet he could be. Of course, after 5 minutes of this, he quickly got bored and started throwing photos around.

He's fairly chilled out now, now that his mum's back with him. Today he's learned that you can't feed southern fries to cats, that you can't pick them up by their harnesses, and that you can't rest your head on them without them yowling and making a dash for it - the best example is when he lay next to the cat, ready to rest his head on the cat - the cat saw it coming and dashed out of the way. Of course, the little guy didn't see him run off, and promptly with a big sigh rested his head firmly on the floor with a bump.

Still, we're all having fun here, order has been restored, the nephew is happy, the cats are happy, and I can go any time I want - but now that I'm here, I'm in no rush to go :).

...

...Okay. My sister and my nephew decided to go out to the toy shop roundabout 3pm, so I took the opportunity to catch the bus home. On the way back I got a bottle of lucozade, and within 5 minutes, was safely ensconced in my room, with my computer already powering up.
I started working on more of my 3d project, and after a few false starts, some of which really bugged me, I've started to make progress.
Before long though, the fact that I'd effectively had little over one hour's sleep in the preceding 28 hours finally caught up with me, and gratefully, I headed to bed, leaving the lucozade (which would have made me unable to sleep) mostly untouched.

I woke up much later that night, about 11pm, and spent a while longer on my 3d art.

Tuesday: I went to bed again, at a rough guess, roundabout 2am. I remember worrying about how I was going to pay for the work on my bike's engine, due to be done this saturday - the cost - £250 - is over a third of my monthly income and about half of my disposable income for the entire month - not a small problem but a great big one.
I must have woken up roundabout 11am, fallen asleep again, woke at 1pm, got out of bed and got on with yet more 3d art.
As I remember it I pretty much bimbled the night away, with 3d-art, watching youtube and chatting on MSN.

I was somewhat surprised to see that the website that I originally made a lot of (what have become over time my oldest and closest) online friends on, bolt.com, has finally been shut down. From what I can see on the notice on the site, the company seems to have gone into administration. That's a shame. I still have friends on that site who now, without my contact details, will never be able to speak to me again. It is a shame. Oh well.

Wednesday: I must have gone to bed in my typical pattern, after watching a load of dilbert cartoons, roundabout 2am.

I woke up at about 11, feeling quite happy and constructive. I did more 3d work, lounged about on MSN, and worried more about the work on my bike. I had to put pressure on the mechanic - a good friend, and the landlord of my local pub (two reasons never to get on his bad side - the saying used to be "never insult the man who prepares your food". Well I have NEW wisdom. Never ever insult the man who owns the only pub you drink in, and NEVER insult the man you trust to work on your motorcycle.) to be able to get my bike in for the 13th, and I was horrified at the idea that after all that, I might not be able to afford it. Eventually I got my mum to drive me to the pub - the scenic route, so we had the opportunity for a nice chat and everything - it's good to be in my mum's company - I should really make an effort to do it more often...

I got to the pub, aware that I had to discuss this issue but reluctant to put Ross (landlord/mechanic) in a bad mood. I checked my account balance at the pub and it confirmed what I had feared. Almost 20% less than I needed to pay him. Maybe he'd split it into two instalments? Maybe he'd defer payment? I don't know.

Anyway, I was pleased to see that there were a couple of my friends outside the pub, with accompanying bikes. Nigel was there with his "spare bike" as he calls it. Scott was there with his new (old) GPX, Matt was there as well. Now Matt is one of these lads - he has a very... pointed sense of humour - he's the sort of person that will insult your mum and look hurt if you don't find it funny. With that in mind, I chose quite early on to let him have his fun, and not get into an argument.

After a while, denis rolled up on his 1150GS, with our mutual friend Rob on the back. So we all had a happy 90 or so ominutes chatting and having a laugh etc, during which time, another couple of bikes turned up including skippy and his friend (who I know, but don't know by name) on their harleys.

Anyway, I stayed out and chatted to another guy - Ian - Who I know quite well, who had just turned up. I was shocked to find that despite being almost 3 times my age, I was earning more than he was. At that point, my cellphone started bleeping battery warnings at me, and it eventually died. Idea: Ross has the same phone as me.
I went in, and asked very nicely, and he went up and got me his charger and let me charge my phone in his pub - he's that kind of guy, would do anything to help a mate.

Sooooo, time went on, Denis, Rob, Matt, Nigel and Scott eventually left, I wandered back into the pub and spent the rest of the night chatting with Ross. while I was debating when to talk about my not being able to afford the work I'd spent ages convincing Ross to book ASAP, he actually got in first and told me that there was just no way he would be able to have the bike in on the 13th. Maybe the 10th of next month, but no way could he get the bike in.
I admitted I was pretty relieved and showed him the printout with my account balance, he just grins.
Out of the goodness of his heart though, Ross agreed that if money was a worry -and he conceded it was for him when he was my age - he would split the bill into two monthly payments. £125 each month - suited my pocket a hell of a lot better! So yes, the work is delayed, but hey, at least money's not a problem anymore.

Thursday: Ross wanted an early night as he had to do lots of driving the following day, so I left roundabout 12:40AM, got a taxi and headed home. I was very drunk at this point, having had to drink up (my last two pints, in addition to what i'd already had that night) in the space of 20 minutes. I bought a couple of large beers to take out, and got the taxi home.
I was so drunk I was concentrating on NOT concentrating on how drunk I was, and said barely a word to the taxi driver.
I got in, locked up, went up to my room, chatted on MSN a bit, then ran downstairs as I felt rather ill. I ended up rushing into the bathroom, and throwing up four times - not something I particularly enjoyed, but better out, than in, eh?

I went back to my room, left my computer untouched, and collapsed on my bed, too ill to move. Even rolling from my stomach onto my back filled me with sickening waves of nausea. I wanted to listen to some music, but the mouse cursor wouldn't go where I told it to, and I couldn't even see the song titles in itunes, my vision was that blurred. Eventually I passed out...

I woke up roundabout 11am, my head was miraculously clear. Of course I felt slightly unsteady on my feet, but no sign of the splitting headaches or damning nausea that my normal hangovers seem to feature. I got up, watched dilbert on the internet for a bit. Got undressed, got into bed, and then my dad came home.
Not long after that, a royal mail van pulled up, bearing a package with my name on it, from Thailand - YES! My jacket!!

So I got dressed, opened up my jacket, and pulled it on.
Even though I got it mail order, it fitted almost perfectly (it's a little short in the sleeves but only by an inch or so - the next size up would have been too large). So I've spent most of thursday doing more 3D art, playing MotoGP '07, just generally relaxing and living the good life.

My parents went out with my mum's father, to a restaurant like they do every thursday, and I figured that (as usual) I'd be without food again.
I took the opportunity to cook myself something, chilled out and watched TV downstairs, only to find that they HAD in fact (the first time in about 2 months!) brought my some food home - and I had to explain that I'd already eaten.
I ate most of it anyway, it was crappy but hey I should be grateful I spose.

I spent the rest of thursday watching Bill Bailey on the internet. He's coming here in november - I might see if I can get tickets...

Friday: So I'm here now, updating this. I don't know whether any of you have this on RSS so I'm going to add a little update just to catch your attention, to let you know that this one single entry is gonna be live for the next week or so.
Yep, at the mo it's 02:30, I'm finally drinking those two large beers I bought, I'm chilling out, in a relaxed mood, and now that money isn't a problem, I'm looking on ebay for more bits for my bike.
So yes, life is good for me. Long term it's no less bleak than it was before, but short term, I'm pretty happy.
I'm gonna go make that new blog entry now, then I'm gonna go enjoy my beer and maybe get some food before heading to bed :).
Later.

Tuesday (The following week): Okay. I'd be lying if I said I was too busy too keep up with my blog entries. Fact is, I was too busy relaxing, and too lazy to update every single day.

I stayed up on the internet most of the night. Unintentionally falling asleep, waking up at 4pm, and then staying up from then onwards. The hours ticked by. 8pm, 10pm, midnight, 2am, 4am.
Oblivious to their passing I amused myself in a hundred small pastimes. Organising the files on my computer, reading wikipedia, sitting in bed watching cartoons, generally being lazy.

Wednesday: I carried this on, through the entire night, never wanting to go to bed. Eventually I fell asleep, in the morning, after everyone else had gone to work...

I woke in the early morning, moved into a more comfortable position in bed, and fell asleep again.
I woke up in the early afternoon, did the same again, and fell asleep.

At 15:30, I woke up, and decided it would be best to get out of bed.
I went downstairs to discover more bolts for my bike had arrived. I went to the shops to get some random stuff, including a 1L bottle of lucozade which I'm sure I'll be glad of later.
I spent the next two hours working on my bike, replacing rusted old and useless fastners with gleaming new stainless steel pars. It never occured to me to wonder when I would actually ride the bike again.
I went upstairs later, spent a couple of hours on Xplane, flying a 747-400 from Liverpool John Lennon, to Paris Charles De Gaulle. I never did have enough time to complete the flight in one go.
I went to the pub - as I normally do on wednesdays. A quiet night in. And so it remained.
the night went on without incident, people came and went, I drank one beer after another, not too fast, just enough to chill out and relax.

Phil - a longstanding regular of the pub and mate of Ross came into the pub.
He came in with some of his friends and seemed to be having a great time. Ross and phil got on as best friends would, but I left them to theirselves for another reason; Phil was recently diagnosed with a terminal illness. The details of which are not known to me - I have not wanted to ask, though it seems to be some kind of brain condition, perhaps a stroke or something similar. It's not my business.
In the past six months, I have seen Phil turn into half the man he used to be. He stumbles, he staggers, his co-ordination is shot, it's like a living nightmare, it seems from the hour he wakes to the hour he collapses, he is on the threshold of losing conciousness. He comes in, he sits down, and he falls to pieces.
And yet, those words hardly do him justice. Phil made his living as an artist, and even now, in what are arguably the twilight years of his life, Phil continues to stagger passers by, potential customers and friends with his incredible talent. If nothing else, and nothing else it seems, phil can still produce, by hand, the most detailed and incredible airbrushed artwork.
A man like him should have made a fortune. Should have set up a business.
He shouldn't have been forced to suffer what he has suffered.

Anyway, Phil's dog, "Marley-hound" [Marley, named after "Marley" from scrooge, not Bob Marley, is a longhaired collie cross tricolour collie, hence his atypical appearance - in reality, he looks like an older greyer version of the dog shown in the picture] as Ross is fond of calling him, came bounding up to everyone in the pub, demanding, in his own canine way, everything from beer to dry roasted peanuts. This guy knows what he wants, marley will stand expectantly in front of someone, whine at them and eventually paw and bark at them, until he gets what he wants. Quavers, Dry roasted peanuts, Carling, Marley loves it.

So I spent the rest of the evening keeping marley occupied and I heard in the background a couple of comments relating to the "RSPCA man". "He loves animals, does the RSPCA man, He always fusses them, takes care of them" I heard.
In what I suppose could be called vanity, I asked ross "Who are you talking about".
"You. You are the RSPCA Man. You care about animals".
With a faint tinge of pride, perhaps more vanity, I went back to fussing marley. Yes, I love animals, yes I am recognised for it, and yes I am proud of it. Besides, Marley loves being fussed, and I love dogs.

I finally leave Marley to his own devices, join everyone at the bar at which point, Ross joins me to Tabasco Sauce. Me? I can't get enough of the stuff. I love it.

I finally get the taxi back home, and upon arriving here, realising that we have no tabasco, I get the nearest meat pie, get some ketchup-with-onion, and mix in as much chilli-powder and as much curry powder, as I can get away with.

I've not tasted it yet.
I'll taste it now.

Whoa. the sauce stars unobtrusive enough. Typical ketchup with onions. As time goes on though the taste gets drier, until the curry and the chilli start showing through. By the end, all you have is a vague impression of the ketchup and the burning of the curry/chilli.
Not a perfect impression of tabasco, but not a bad approximation...

Anyway, I'm here, listening to my iPod, eating meatpie with my own custom spicy sauce, and chilling with some beer, listening to one of Mushroomhead's cool tunes.

Later I'll move onto Eiffel 65's cool tune :D.
Have fun :).