Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Just a little note

Okay, workplace chat has been abuzz with talk of this morning's quake, and the news has been on TV in the office all the time. Apparently, some more assessments have been carried out, and the quake was re-categorised as being a 5.2 quake, rather than a 4.7. The epicenter is in a town called market rasen, in lincolnshire, which again, is about 70 miles from here.

Damage caused was limited to collapsed chimney stacks and the odd new hole in someone's garden, but apparently the quake was felt as far north as Newcastle, and as far south as Brighton - that's basically almost the entire country that felt it.

One thing I forgot to mention a few days ago, is that need for speed prostreet, and unreal tournament 3, are now working again DESPITE the overheating problem returning.
I only got over this because my dad was nice enough to give me a cool neon blue fan card that slots into the motherboard and provides extra cooling for the card.

Here, you can see :).

And now I have my nephew's birthday party to prepare for :).

Shaky beginnings indeed,,,

Picture the scene, 12:58am ish.
I'm laying in bed, mostly asleep. My computer's purring silently next to me, I'm doing my best not to drool all over the pillows, I'm nice and warm and totally relaxed.
Suddenly, I get this sensation - that falling sensation that tends to jerk you awake.
Except I'm still awake, and the sensation isn't stopping. There's a roaring noise outside, just the wind, most likely, as it's been really windy**.

Except the roaring noise isn't coming from outside, it's coming from underneath, directly underneath the house, and the jerking sensation isn't stopping.
Things start jangling about on the top shelf, in true movie fashion, some random metallic objects I own rattle together in their own jingly little way, while a few things fall off my shelves. I realise with a heart-in-my-mouth rush of adrenaline, that this is an earthquake!

I've never been in an earthquake before, is this the beginning? How long will it last? Will it get worse? Will it cause damage? After about 5-10 seconds the earthquake dies down, the roaring stops, and the only reason my body's shaking now, is because of my pounding heart.
If I was just walking down the street, and it happened, I suppose i'd be less affected by it, but as it woke me up, this really rattled me (ha ha etc).
I'll admit, to those of you who live in earthquake prone areas, I probably sound like I'm overdramatising it a bit, but I'll be honest, this is the first earthquake I've ever experienced, and it kinda scared me. It definitley woke me up!!

So today, I have mostly been in bed, and I'll admit, that's the first time the earth's ever moved for me while I've been in bed by myself.

"if you are awake and didn't expect to be awake, it might be because of the tremor that seems to have affected the earthquake, pretty much the entire country"

Looks like everyone felt it.

So yeah, that was completely bizarre. Seismological stability my arse.
Okay, so no buildings fell down, and no one was hurt (unless there were some people balancing on high things or something) but that was a completely strange experience. To eplain further, the UK is very tectonically stable - we've had two earthquakes in about the last five years, and the one before this one was too weak to feel outside the epicenter (down in the west midlands) so I didn't experience it.

Well, I'm bloody freezing cos I got out of bed unexpectedly, so time to get back in.
I wonder if there'll be any aftershocks...

UPDATE: The news reports are flooding in now. The quake was apparently centered on kingston-upon-hull, which is over to the east. about 70 miles by road.[edit - no two news stations can agree on where the quake was centered, so let's take this bit of information with a pinch of salt, for now]. Judging by the fact that the majority of the country felt it, we're relatively close to the epicenter. So...

The quake itself has been measured (according to some sources which similarly cannot agree on how strong it was) as having a magnitude of between 4.7 to 4.9, which in United Kingdom terms, is a biggie. It says that 4.9 is right smack on the borderline between a light "unlikely to cause any damage" and moderate "can cause damage to poorly constructed buildings" earthquake. Why can't they just shake hands and agree it was a 4.8?

Anyway, that was fun.
Actually it wasn't it was scary. But now I know what it was, I want another one!

So now we know!

Night all.

**Roaring noise, yes, that's the best way to describe it. An earthquake doesn't sound like a truck passing by or a freight train, it sounds like a bloody earthquake, and the sound of a vehicle, no matter how big, passing you, is NOT the same as two massive plates of rock thousands of kilometers across (one of which has your house built on it!) grinding against each other. It's like the difference between a kazoo and a marching band. An Earthquake sounds like an earthquake. Period/Full Stop/Your National Equivalent.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Back to normal...

Today I have been mostly visiting the dentist. Nothing major, just a filling. I had the university student [carrying out the dental work] again, and what she officially (she seems to be able to do everything my regular dentist can do) lacks in experience, she makes up for in bedside manner.
Of course my regular dentist is very nice, but this one is nicer.
Anyway I'm not going to write a huge dramatic description of the procedure, because a filling is a filling, and after having had about 6 of them in the past year, they're really nothing to write home (or friends) about.

Apart from that I have been sleeping. I have had three seperate sleeps today, one this morning from 2am-8:30am, one this afternoon from 12pm-3pm, and another one from 4pm to 7pm.
I have also been playing Need for Speed Prostreet, which I must remember to review some time.
I totally buggered up carreer mode by selling a very good car to buy what turned out to be a totally crappy one, so I started the game all over again.

What have I been up to the past few days? Taking photos mostly, and I've been working on my long-exposure photography to see if I could do special effects photos.
The long and short of it is that I can do special effects photos, but not very good ones.
Here they are. I'm quite pleased with them, not bad at all for a first attempt. Maybe.

To continue, I have not been doing much the past few days. I'm off soon, to buy a battery grip for my camera, to make it look beefier and bigger (actually I'm buying it because the D200 eats batteries, although the grip will make the camera beefier and bigger).

I also managed to get some decent photos of my camera, which next to my bike, is my pride and joy :). As well as my computer, obviously.

This space is intentionally filled with text that states that this space is intentionally filled with text that states thatthis space is intentionally left blank. Because well, come on, look at it, the formatting of this blog entry is an absolute bloody nightmare. In fact. I'm going to just make stuff up to fill the gap; Did you know that the UK has more dangerous wildlife than people think. According to Bill Bailey, hedgehogs feeding on honey, might fall in your eyes! Billy Connolly agrees, complaining that cows are dangerous as they have a habit of standing on your feet when you stand near them. How near, he didn't say. He could be referring to those weird cows with extendable legs that people keep phoning me about at work.
No I'm not insane, they're insane. I don't invent mad callers, they just happen to me.

It's a lovely piece of kit, and I love it to bits.
Incidentally, the paperwork for the camera has now arrived. I'm now officially being charged for it.

So now, I am off to put my clothes in the dryer, have a shower, stick the tv on, eat a creme egg and some aero bubbles, and go to bed, so that I can wake up bright and refreshed, and fully ready for the challenges (talking to idiots while resisting the urge to hang myself from the nearest power strip, out of sheer desperation and frustration) all day.

My work life is a dilbert comic.
Only my work life, not my domestic life. That's more My Family.


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

I got a pressie, yay!

I got home from a fairly dull, boring, but painless day at work to discover that someone had sent me a late birthday present...

Okay, I bought it myself but it amounts to pretty much the same thing, in practical terms.

I unwrapped it and found myself looking at this: A rather nice red and white box with a lot of numbers and letters and figures on that probably don't mean anything to most people.

Yay! The present which I bought myself from ebay had arrived, and it arrived damn fast as well - he only dispatched it yesterday! So I open the box and I'm pleased to find my new pressie :).

Yep, it's a new sparkly lens for my camera. Not only is it a new sparkly lens, it's a new sparkly wide angle lens, which means that my camera is now more versatile than before, I can take better photos indoors, and I can cram more stuff into my pictures! Fantastic stuff, that'll come in useful.
So I shoved it on my camera (gently of course, it's expensive) and started playing around with it. While the lens does exactly what it says on the box, it also has the added advantage of making my already substantial camera look absolutely massive. Yes, cameras are for taking photos, not featuring in them, but it's always nice to have a camera that looks like a tank.

I've since spent most of my time doing general admin, cleaning my room etc, hoping that tonight will be cloudless, and that I can get some decent photos of the upcoming lunar eclipse [news]. The sky is looking very cloudy at the minute, and I'm very annoyed. It's been bloody clear for the past four or five days, absolutely crystal clear. The night we have a lunar eclipse and the bloody clouds get together for a bleeding party!! I'm genuinley angry now, there's not a f***ing star in the sky!

Anyway. Here's a nice photo of my new and old camera side by side so you can laugh at how much chunkier my sparkly new one is compared to my weedy old one :).]

And since you've been ever so nice, there's a nice sparkly view through the viewfinder showing you all numbers and stuff, so if you don't have a good camera, you can print it out really small and stick it to the viewfinder of your camera so when you look through it you can pretend you've got a monster like mine hehe.

Did that sound bigheaded? I spose it did. Not like me really, though I suppose a bit of smug-gitiness never hurt anyone in small doses :). If you get jealous, just console yourself with how much the damn thing has cost me.
Or hasn't cost me.
I've not had any paperwork from the company, so while I owe money, I still don't know who to or when I need to pay. Clever huh? I mean I'm all for a free camera, but I'd rather just get the thing paid off before I leave my customer service mcjob.

Still, here's the pics, let's hope the sky clears!

(yes, these photos are kak (or however you spell it, it's not a word I use often), because I took them with my cheap and cheerful point and click, and it has little to no manual control whatsoever.

Oh well.

Monday, February 18, 2008

More pain, lucky me!

Okay, so, I opened a nice packet of Biltong for some quick snacking pleasure, and after the past few days, in which i've had no dental pain whatsoever, I thought "hey, I wonder if my jaw has fully healed, I know, I'll try chewing on that side for a bit".

So I did.

And it hadn't.

I've spent the last six hours in not inconsiderable pain, having gone through a few anadin (well, four, DO NOT EXCEED THE STATED DOSE etc) and generally rolled around on my bed while reading, humming happy little tunes to myself to try and distract myself from the feeling that a dentist was giving me a root canal without anaesthetics.

Admittedly, the pain is subsiding now, though the last 6 hours have taught me that that may well only be a temporary thing, so I've been distracting myself by getting thoroughly immersed in a book.

"Pushing Ice" by Alastair Reynolds is a book that seems to have been unjustly maligned in reviews, with at least one reviewer describing it as a shameless ripoff of a couple of books, not the least of which was "Rendezvous with Rama". There are similarities I suppose.

The story follows the crew of a mining ship, the rockhopper, and its crew. The rockhopper is owned by a company that makes its money mining cometary ice and as the story starts, we find the rockhopper mining one such comet.

Before long though, they receive a message that Janus, one of Saturns moons, has unexpectedly left orbit of Saturn, and is accelerating out of the solar system. In true sci-fi adventure fashion, Rockhopper is the closest ship, and as such is tasked to investigate.

What follows is a novel full of scientific exploration, filled with conflict, not only between the ship's captain, Bella Lind, but between her closest friend, Svetlana Barseghian, and between the crew and the company itself. Such arguments and fighting, while initially put aside, are present throughout the entire book, during which Rockhopper not only tails Janus, but is carried out of the solar system along with it, into new realms completely outside human experience.

The book charts the survival of the crew and their descendants, as Janus carries them towards its unknown destination, where the crew quickly find that there are much larger things at stake than company or patriotic pride, where not only the solar system, but Humanity itself become things that are only distantly remembered.

Without wanting to go into any more detail though, I strongly recommend you get a copy - it's a very good book, and a great introduction to Alastair Reynolds' novels, of which he has written at least a half dozen more, in a similar style. As with all his books, the scale is vast, covering not only thousands of light years, but thousands of years of time as well.

I've also been playing around on ebay, winning a new lens for my camera, which is just as fantastic a toy as its always been :).

Thankfully, whether due to the second pair of Anadin I've recently taken, the fact that I'm distracting myself with writing this, or just the fact that the irritation of my jaw is beginning to die down, the pain is lessening, so I'm off now to read another Reynolds novel.

Have fun all, and let's hope I stop being in considerable discomfort sometime soon!

Update: 03:22AM

Okay, so my period of comfort/low pain didn't last long. While (going on experience) I'm pretty sure that this is only a temporary thing, going to bed didn't help affairs one bit. And whether it's cos the painkillers are wearing off, or because I was putting pressure on my jaw by resting my head on the pillow, my pain has worsened considerably.
I now have a very sharp yet throbbing pain from about the 3rd tooth on the lower right all the way to the farthest back molar, also extending up my jaw to my temple, giving me a throbbing localised headache. The pain isn't excruciating, and it's not the worst I've had, but it is the worst pain I've had for a fair few years, and it's definitley keeping me from sleeping.

So I'm up again, i've got a nice hot drink, and I'm going to chill out until the pain disappears. If it doesn't disappear by morning I'm gonna phone the d*nt*st and book an urgent appointment - even having my teeth drilled to bits is better than this pain.

What I wouldn't give for a shot of that dentist's anaesthetic right now! Ow Ow Ow!

Update: 08:17AM

Right. I finally crawled into bed at about 4:30am, and for at least 90 minutes, enjoyed blissful oblivion.

I woke up about 2 hours ago in absolutely sickening pain, and have been unable to get back to sleep since. I'm not going to put it off anymore - I'm in the process of getting changed and going to the dentists. I need to put a stop to this and frankly, I'm happy to subject myself to the dentists ministrations if it means getting rid of this pain. I'm tired, I'm very irritable, my voice is half an octive higher than it normally is, and I don't know whether I want to start throwing up, or start crying.

I am absolutely hating this, so it's time to get it seen to.

Update: 09:09 AM

I've just got back from the dentists. Surprisingly the pain seemed to lessen on the way there. I put this down to the fact that it's still hanging around the high minuses outside, maybe -1/-2 C. Whether the cold deadened the nerves, or whether it just made the rest of me as uncomfortable as my jaw, I don't know, but it's better than being inside.

I got into the dentists, explained my situation in a "please help me!" kind of way, and she said that a bunch of university students are coming in to practice their dentistry. Alarm bells started ringing in my head, as I remember a scene from an old film where a guy (he's being chased by hospital security so he disguises himself as a dentistry student) accidentally pulls out a perfectly healthy tooth from a patient who had otherwise perfect teeth.
She mentioned that they'll be fully supervised by a trained dentist though, and as my dad rightly points out, they'll no doubt do their best to avoid hurting me because doing otherwise doesn't make them look good.

It's 09:13 now, and my appointment is at 10:10 - it's being treated as a short-notice dental emergency, which sounds about right!

On the way back though, I began to feel dizzy. The fact I haven't had anything to eat for 24 hours, coupled with 2 hours sleep in the same time, has left me feeling very faint, and not all there. I tested myself, closing my eyes as I was walking along, opening them again to find that completely without concious effort, I'd wobbled onto the other side of the path and onto the grass.

If I can get back there without passing out, I'll consider myself lucky, but I feel more terrible than I've felt for a long, long time.

Oh well, let's see how the appointment comes along. Yes it scares me, but anything's got to be better than this pain which isn't helped by my FCUKING computer beeping warnings at me every goddamn 20 seconds!!!!

I'm off to mope around for a bit anyway. Hope you're having a better day than me!

Update: 12:14PM

Okay so I've got back from the dentist, having seen a team of completely wonderful (no, really!) student dentists, and I have a tale to tell.

Apparently when I bit down on my tooth, I may well have severed the blood supply to that tooth. This means that the nerve inside the tooth will now be in the process of dying - this is a probable cause of the pain. What needs to be done is to see whether a (medicated) temporary filling solves the problem - if not, I will need to have a root canal (the removal of the entire inside of the tooth to remove the dead/dying tissue. This is likely to be the main cause of the pain.

She did however notice on an Xray, that the portion of the root that my regular dentist left inside my jaw when she removed the tooth directly in front, has become inflamed and infection has set in - while this may not be responsible for the pain, it does need to be dealt with - given how unpleasant having the tooth itself out was, I've elected to have this done under general anaesthetic (they put me to sleep and then operate on me), at a local hospital. I will probably have to wait a while to have this done.

In addition, she noticed a couple of cavities, some surrounding the filling in the larger of the two painful teeth (the one that is likely to have a dead nerve inside it), and one in the center of the smaller tooth in front of it.

Here is a diagram I cheerfully spent 5 minutes drawing, for you to see :).

She sent me to the pharmacy, and I've returned home with two prescriptions. The one she prescribed, and the one I prescribed.

Ibuprofen is a painkiller.
Co-codamol is a very powerful painkiller.
Metronidazole is an antibiotic, to counteract the infection in my jaw.

I took one met, and 2 co codamol, and the pain more or less disappeared, for about an hour - it's coming back now :(.

But, I also prescribed myself some aero bubbles, a drink of lucozade, and a nice burger, to cheer myself up :).

Now I'm going to try to sleep before the pain kicks in again, and I should be on soon :).

Update: 20:00PM

For whatever reason, the effects of the co-codamol wore off very quickly, and within 90 minutes, the majority of the pain had returned. Confused at the advice the dentist had given me and not wanting to accidentally commit suicide (that WOULD stop me from becoming a tankie!) the Ibuprofen laid neglected while I took the co-codamol (I later found out that the dentist's advice was right, I CAN take co-codamol and ibuprofen at the same time (well not at the SAME time but you get me)).
In retrospect, the pain should have been expected, because I gather that co-codamol is cumulative, and takes a while to build up in your system, which would explain why it didn't really take the first time.

My mum got me these two wonderful herbal warmer thingies, basically two big cloth pads stuffed with peppermint and lemongrass and all sorts of other aromatic herbs, the things were just a variation on the hot water bottle, they did the same job, but made me smell like a christmas pot pourri selection too (they smell really nice actually).

Although I didn't notice any lessening of the pain when applied, I did notice a sharp increase when removed. So I'm not sure whether they were a placebo or whatever but they seemed to help, and with all these dental problems, I was laying down on the sofa with it like a kid clutching a teddy, grateful for any help I could get.

Time rolled around though, time for more codeine. I prepared my burger too, and once the codeine kicked in I ate my burger, thoroughly enjoying the first thing I'd had to eat in well over 24 hours (excluding the biltong that started this bloody mess!), and I rolled over on my side and sank into blessed, glorious, perfect sleep!!!

First thing I did when I woke up was to get a drink of water, get my co codamol and antibiotics down me, and compared to how I felt this morning, I feel great. Yes, the pain is still there under the surface, but at the minute, I'm on top of it, and compared to this morning, I'm in a fantastic mood! :)

Long may it continue!

Update: 11:42 PM. about 2 hours ago, following my dentist's advice, I supplemented the co-codamol I took when I woke up with an ibuprofen. The result of this combination was to make me not only drowsy, but high as a kite. Having spent the last 2 hours feeling like a kid who has eaten all the red smarties, I now (again, in keeping with the advice the dentist has given me) have taken another two (on schedule - 2 every 4 hours) to (in my dentist's words) "keep my codeine levels constant".

The downside to this is that I now feel completely stoned, very drowsy and slightly euphoric. Yes, it's a lot better than being in the pain I was in before, but I still like being in control of all my er, faculties.

To simulate the effects of a day of codeine + one ibuprofen, simply go without sleep for 48 hours, and then drink 3 cans of lager.

I'm gonna have a shower and stuff and go to bed soon, but I can't do that while my mum's arsing about doing whatever she's doing.

Still, I'm gonna sit about and concentrate on not falling asleep :).


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Happy Birthday To Me!! (Part 2!)

Right. So, I pottered about a bit, decided not to have a shower, snuggled into bed after sticking Dilbert on, and went to sleep - that's exactly what I did. Far from getting into bed, reflecting on how much I need to change the straw, and generally being uncomfortable (seriously most of the time it takes me an hour or so to get to sleep after climbing into my pit. Sometimes I'll toss*, I'll turn, sometimes I'll revolve completely (*shut up)) I actually fell asleep within what must have been less than 15 minutes!

Oh hang on, I completely skipped the bit about my actual birthday. Screw today's day at work, let's carry on with the birthdayness...

So hey, erm.
Yes, I woke up and went out with my mum. Seriously I said I wouldn't skip any more but you're missing 99.9% of boring crap, I mean it. We had a nice drive through derbyshire, through town, and as we passed round, we got closer and closer to our destination as the signs pointed us towards the "national stone center".

"Yay!" I thought. "I hope it's not as crap as the last time I went!" (it was a surprise trip so I had no idea we would be going there).

We parked up and went on our way down. At least the place was finished this time, last time it was under construction, and I didn't particularly enjoy it. Admittedly last time I was a suicidally depressed sterotypical emo type alternative depressed teenager who's sole occupation was to moan about life...
...well it was fun at the time (seriously if fifteen year old me met twenty-three year old me, he'd rip my damn face off for saying that!)...

Aaaaanyway, we went down and while I'm not going to talk you through 45 minutes of our walk around an abandoned quarry, it was okay I spose. I got some amazing photos, I got to show off my camera, and I got to view an interesting wall exhibition (seriously, they have a wall museum there. To their credit though, while I make it sound really bad, it's an exhibition designed by various stonecutters and wallers etc, people who design loads of different types of walls out of natural materials etc. Okay, that doesn't make it sound any less boring than it is, but at least it should go some way towards pointing out the work that people have put into the place).

But. Without wanting to sound dismissive, I had a great time with my mum, okay, the place wasn't fantastic, it was the venue, not the company. The scenery was fantastic and I manage to get some really cool photos. But, off we went to go elsewhere.

We visited a nearby memorial, the Sherwood Foresters if memory (yeah, 2 days) of memory serves me correctly. The highest point in the county had a tower built on it, and the view was supposed to be amazing.
So off we went, up various hills, going up, driving round, going up etc...
Parked up, and walked through the place up to the tower itself.

My mum refused to climb up the tower, but hey, it's a rock solid tower, built out of stone, it's only 40 foot high. So I paid the fee, walked up the staircase and up I went, counting steps.

20 steps. 30. 40. As I went up, the stairs seemed to get narrower [they would have, the tower narrowed as its height increased] as I walked up. I was carrying a tripod in one hand, and had a camera bag on my back. I heard the sound of wind coming from up above and almost saw the light from the sky above the steps, one more time round the tower, it couldn't be more than two times could it?

I passed a window in the wall, showing me to be some 50ft above the ground, inside this thing. That, coupled with the narrow and sheer stairs, combined to make the tower seem less like a purpose built structure, and more like a deep shaft, with steps carved into the wall.

I've never had a head for heights, even indoors, and I decided that enough was enough. To my horror though, I turned round, and the staircase, as if in a dramatic movie special effect or whatever semeed to get even narrower. So I wandered down, holding what felt like the most insubstantial handrail ever, round and round these steps, until eventually, I got to the bottom, disappointed that I'd not been able to go all the way to the top.
But hey, I've never had a head for heights, and towers are not my thing.

Off we went, and driving through rural Derbyshire on a beautiful sunny day, my mood improved. Birds were singing, the day was sunny, the air was warm etc etc...

We pulled up into the car park of a nearby restaurant, and went in.
This was kinda a bar restaurant that had pretentions of greatness, so while the place looked like a bar, they acted like a restaurant. My mum asked "can we pick a place to sit?"
Fair enough.
To which the waitress's response was an artificial polite but embarrased laugh followed by "no", in that incredibly patronising "ahem, no" way.

We got dumped on a table next to the restrooms, and after five minutes of reading the incredibly limited menu - seriously, the place had more champagnes than dinners on sale, I asked "can we just go?" and we did.

So cool, my birthday was really really working out. :(

Anyway, I got dragged along to Grindleford. The name might strike horror into the hearts of all the local walkers.

Grindleford Station Cafe (in the old station house) - a climbers'/walkers' (and occasional Chelsea Tractor Family in bone-dry Gore Tex) cafe famous throughout the UK outdoors community for its 0% Fat-Free food and plain-speaking handwritten notices banning (amongst other things) "uncontrollable children", "mobile phones", and "human fireguards".

The place, this cafe, built in what probably by now qualifies as the ruins of an old rail station, is simply, the worst fucking place I have ever eaten. I'm sorry for the language but it is.
the place is cold, the door is always open. The menu is written in broken English on several chalkboards behind the chipped, stained and discoloured formica counter. That's not all. Not only is the fridge half empty, the effort made on actually making the place look like an eatery, nil, but these people seem to actually fucking resent anyone coming in and making their life a misery, by ordering food.

I am not joking! Go to wikipedia and type in "grindleford". You walk in and the place is covered with "No mobile phones! (cellphones) We come here to avoid them!). One sign said "Due to parents not keeping control of their tiny tots, we are considering banning children from the cafe".

We went in and despite the clueless service, (okay the kid tried his best), the lack of drinks (all sold out [or more likely, understocked]) and the astronomical prices (was it £2 each for a plate of chips?) we ordered some food and sat down, as I tried to ignore the dirt, grime, and general shittiness that showed exactly why a goddamn WW2 era rail station should not try to do business as a cafe!

Eventually, like some kind of hateful bingo caller, the woman moaned into a microphone, indicating that our food was ready. We retreived it from the counter ("this is not an observation gallery, this is a service counter, go wait for your food we will tell you when it is ready!"), we sat down, realising that not only was there no ketchup or whatever, there were actually no forks, knives etc, not even plastic ones, just an absence of eating devices in general.

Now I know what you're thinking. Well, actually I don't, but shush and listen.
I'm not a snob or whatever, my idea of a meal is a cheap microwave meal. Sometimes I don't even have forks, pizza and chips and fish fingers etc, I don't even have them. But I had to laugh as I see everyone in this place eating with their fingers because this place doesn't have cutlery.

We tuck into our chips. Yes, they're hot, yes, they're crunchy. Okay on two out of three...
But they fall down flat on the most important point - THEY TASTE OF THIN AIR!

I mean Damn, I bet the table tasted better than these pointless slivers of potato extract.
After 10 minutes of futilely trying to enjoy our meal, me trying to ignore the fact that my lucozade soda was so flat you'd figure it had been dropped on the floor, we couldn't ignore it anymore and left, leaving most of our food.

I swear, that place is probably an inside joke. Inside, all the staff are probably lovely friendly warm people. They probably have pride in what they do. I'm serious! Some part of someone there must care what goes on in that restaurant. Maybe they deliberatley provide shit food, a shit environment and shit service, maybe it's kinda an inside joke for all the walkers and whatever, I don't know.

But to me and my mum, as rough uncivilised uncultured city folk, the cafe at Grindleford station, is the worst fucking place I've ever eaten in. It was fucking shite ten years ago, and it was fucking shite on monday!!!

After that, we went home. On the jorney hom I reflected on what, well, what a thoroughly depressing and wasteful day out I'd had for my birthday. I'd ben to two seperate places, both of which I said at the time I never wanted to visit again. Yes, to her credit, my mum had the best intentions, she performed, we went on a nice sunny day to different paces, that just turned out to be crap.
A shame, I was hoping something more than to be ignored by everyone except for my mum and my bro. But hey, I spose I'm too old for birthdays to be special anymore.
Me, twenty three, huh. Scary.

We got home eventually, and chilled out. Well my mum sat down and watched tv and relaxed. I went upstairs and chilled out, which is basically the same, but for younger people.

We made arrangements to go to a nearby restaurant though, which I spose is where I take two minutes to grab the photos, So without further adeiu, let me go and get my cables and stuff, and I'll get this stuff together :).

We went to my favourite restaurant, the Boardwalk, which has had a change of ownership since I applied for a job there (I didn't get it). It's a pretty cool American style bar and grill.

We sit down, get our stuff organised, and eventually after getting together, my mum, dad, sister, nephew, brother, and brother's fiancee, we have a good ol' family time and decide what meals to get.

I get nachos. Of course I get nachos, I always get nachos :D.
With lots of guacamole, cream and salsa! I love the Boardwalk.

We carry on chilling out and you know, it was a really nice family occasion. The first time we'd been out as a family for ages, and I really enjoyed it.

My enchiladas arrived , accompanied by a really cool chocolate milkshake. The milkshake was good, it wasn't awesome, the one from TGI's looked and tasted 1000 times better, but this one was pretty damn good looking.

So anyway. We had a good old time there, the meal was decent, the service was awesome, fantastic, Boardwalk, I thoroughly enjoyed my meal. Was awesome.
First time in well, 12 months, that I've eaten so much I felt ill hehe.
I had a whole place of nachos and most of the enchiladas, and that made me feel full and ill.
Maybe I have a small stomach. Who knows.

As I say, I came home, I wrote my blog, I went to sleep.

As for my entire birthday experience, it was varied, I'll give it that. My new camera, and my brother's gifts were great. The lack of interest from everyone else made it crap. But in the end, the nice meal together with the family, made it passable.
I give it 5.5/10. It wasn't that bad really :).

And now I am not off to bed, I am actually off to do whatever I want. Yay, go me.

Take care :).

Monday, February 11, 2008

Happy Birthday To Me!! (Part 1)

Well, birthday eve and then birthday actually. Yes, I've been busy over the past couple of days, so I'm kinda summarising everything.

Well, I get home from work on saturday evening and out comes the beer. It's a fairly slow start but by 3am the following morning, I'm well stewed and ready to call it a night. So I do, going to bed with a big nice fresh cup of water to cool me down.

I wake up at 8am, with my dad shouting me telling me my bro will be round at about 11. My mouth is a little dry so I go to grab my cup of water, to find there's a teabag floating in it.
Not quite sure what I tried to invent, the night before. Room-temperature ice tea, perhaps?

Anyway, I do the compulsory amount of requisite shouting of acknowledgement, sufficient to get him to feck off and let me get back to sleep, and I fall asleep with blurred vision and a taste of tetley's finest (albeit death-strong, stewed for at least four hours, and room temperature, and no milk, or sugar) tea in my mouth.

I wake up as the doorbell goes (I may be a bit unclear on this point, but the fact is that my brother arriving woke me up, okay), and I give a little hop skip and a jump (metaphorically - attempting it in my condition would have resulted in me sliding down the stairs) downstairs and leap into the leather recliner.

My Brother and his fiancee come bearing gifts, not one, but two distinct presents, yay! [it goes someway towards making up for getting absolutely nothing else from anyone at all]

The first present is pretty large, I tear into the paper thinking "Oh christ please let this be something I like, I don't want to have to go through the next five years using something I hate, just to avoid upsetting someone, though this is my brother we're talking about and Im don't think I've ever had a present from him that I haven't liked - he's sort of the anti-sock-giving-granny, the antithesis of old ma evans, the one who knits you woolen socks each year..." and out comes a backpack. But no ordinary backpack, a camera backpack! Yes, I can finally ditch the huge, heavy shoulder bag that came with my old F50.
I start manhandling everything into the bag, and it fits perfectly, three lenses, the camera body, manual etc, perfect fit. Fantastic.

The next present is a book. It's square, it's heavy, it bends only on one axis, the exact same way that books are wont to do (apart from hardbacks, but those are space consuming fatherless spawns of hell and have no place in a modern office).

"Oh god" I think, "Please don't let this turn into another 'gems bible' (see christmas day 2007)".

I open the present, and it's a book, definitley. The nikon D200 field guide - a page by page detailed guide on the history, the features, the tecniques, everything I need to know about my new camera! Fantastic!

So, without further adeiu, let me show you my pressies thus far. First photo shows just how well everything fits snugly into the new backpack. Second one shows not only my sparkly new nikon d200 field guide (which so far is a very good and useful book), but also how much stuff you can actually fit in the backpack - and it's not even full yet:

Is there any formatting on this blog? I don't know.
No there isn't. It's just a horrible mishmosh of text and images.

Oh well, we shall continue. Well, at least I'm going to, you can piss off if you want, go and read some other guy's boring ramblings...

No, it's nice to have you all here, really :).

So my bro and I sat around and chilled out for a bit with the family, we both had our cameras and we were playing with the cameras and taking randomly bad photos of everything in front of us, which seemed to please our mum.

Anyway, eventually, off to the nature reserve we go. I stop along to get some food on the way, and then we carry on. We get there, park the car, I forget wallet and have to go back for it, etc etc...

*fastforward noise*
*fastforward noise*

[okay I'm sorry, I won't do that too much, I know if you've read this far, I flatter myself that you probably have a genuine interest in what I get up to, so from now, even though I'm on a tight tight schedule - believe me I am - I'll try to keep all the detail in]

So we're in the first hide, having just got in and set our cameras up, and for a while we're able to catch a decent array of wildlife on film. Well. You know what I mean, but "on compactflash" doesn't have the same ring to it.

We spend a while there and I come up with some pretty good images - here are some of my favourites (the best ones, that will make me look better than I am - I warn you, if you're still a technological retard with a dialup connection, don't click these pictures...
...or do click these pictures, but get a coffee first. And a doughnut. And a copy of "Which Digital Camera".

Okay, they're passable, not absolutely breathtaking, but you can clearly see what they are, and I think they're kinda okay. However, I went for a little break, and when I came back, there was an absolutely immense behemoth of a bird sat on a feeder about 6 foot from where I sat.

Okay, he was a wood pigeon, and wasn't THAT big, but he was huge compared to the other birds i'd been snapping, and he seemed unfazed by the lenses and suchlike that he could plainly see in front of him. I was able to get some incredible shots of him, some really good ones.

We eventually left the hide, and walked along to the next one. On the way I managed to take a few pics of some tufted ducks, and we made our way into the next hide.

Which was packed.
There was a bit of a premium on space, but eventually, we were able to settle into the seats and start taking our pictures. Unfortunatley, the birds were so far away that even if I could take a decent photo with the lenses I had, the camera was just waving about too much from people stomping around. So while I did take some photos here, there's not really anything worth showing off.

I meet up with my mate while I'm there, and we go and chill out with my brother for a bit. After a while, with little memory (camera memory!) left, my brother decides to call it a day, but says he will return to collect me...

On the way back he managed to break his sunglasses, which left me feeling kinda guilty (though he DID ask to come along so I don't know whether I should, or??)

After we got everything sorted out, me and my mate (sounds a lot less pretentious and toffee nosed than "my friend and I") managed to get in about another hour's shooting, before time for home.

Not bad though, I got some decent shots, and after my brother took me back home, we all enjoyed a nice sunday dinner.

And it's at this point that I'm going to leave you folks. Yes, I know, I've stopped halfway through, but I am really tired, I need an early night, I have to be up at (even by my standards) stupid o clock in the morning, and I've got some stuff to do first.
Don't worry though, tune in tomorrow for more exciting (exciting?) tales of intense pulse pounding photography, hardcore going-out-for-meals, and bedtime-story-like sleep sequences!


Saturday, February 09, 2008

Life thru a lens...

So, I went to bed fairly late, and was up the same morning, full of enthusiasm, ready to go to the store, sign the payment agreement, and pick up my camera.

Now public transport is something of a hellish tangle of badly connected systems that don't go where you want and charge you twice as much as they should, and while Taxis are even more expensive, I couldn't bear to go through the soul draining experience of walking to the opposite end of the suburb to catch a bus that goes to the next suburb where i have to wait anything up to an hour for the next train (that would only charge me 3 times as much as they should) to where I was going.

So I got all my stuff together and got a taxi, which after a hellishly slow (he stuck to every single speed limit, on empty roads, including the 30mph/50kph limit, which is hellishly low as it is), I began wondering early on whether he was out to charge me as much for the journey as possible by delaying getting me there.

I got there in the end though, paid the guy (he wasn't ripping me off), and walked into the store, where I proudly announced that I'd come to pick up my D200, my camera, my baby, my new pride and joy, my...
Ahem, sorry, getting carried away there.

So I spoke to the dude about the "buy now pay nothing till 2009" agreement that they had going, at which point he tells me that "they withdrew the agreement without warning", and that I could no longer apply for that type of finance. I'd have to go for the 48 monthly option instead.
With a sinking heart, I decided that as much as I wanted the camera, I sure as hell was not going to spend four years paying for something I could pay for in four months.

"Sorry mate, I'll have to leave it" says I as I decide sadly, that I can't have my camera afterall. Oh well, some things aren't meant to be.
He stops me before I can leave however, by hurriedly explaining some of the terms and conditions behind this four year agreement. Not the least of which is the fact that I can finish the agreement early by paying it off in full, I barely get charged anything for doing so, and as long as I meet my agreed minimum instalments, I can pay as much as I like towards the plan.

So If I take out a 48 month agreement, I'm still within my rights to give them 12 month's money at a time, and I can finish the entire agreement in four months without being subjected to horrific charges for the privilege. Okay then, let's talk business.
But I explan that I don't like owing money to anyone, and I want to get the agreement out of the way as soon as possible. With this in mind, I agree to put down a £200 deposit on the camera, and split the other £600 up.

So we're there for the best part of the next hour with me scrutinizing the small print through a microscope, looking for any telltale signs like "these terms are changable at any time without notice" etc etc, and after an hour of "what does this bit mean? What does that mean?" I decide that I can meet and am willing to meet, the terms of the agreement.

However as I'm going through the terms, I realise that I'm not wearing either my watch or my ring. Erm. I don't remember taking my ring off... I need to deal with that later, ut I still look nervously at the dotted line, as yet ungraced by my signature.
A simple innocent row of dots never looked so threatening.

I signed the agreement, and as everything was in triplicate, I had to sign a lot more, about 9 pieces of paper in the end. With each signature I heard a church bell tolling in my mind...
...okay that's a lie, but if it was one of those movies where everything goes bad and the hero gets forced into drug trafficking or has to resort to violence to get the money or whatever, I would have.

So the long and short of it that after signing away my life, I walked out of that store with the weight of the D200 in my backpack I go to buy a drink or something and reflect on what a terrible morning I've had. I now "own" one of Nikon's flagship cameras, a very capable camera that will do anything I want it to, but the fact is I've signed up to my first ever credit agreement, and have agreed to give them money that I don't actually have yet. Yeah, I know, that's the whole idea of Credit, but the idea just doesn't strike a chord with me.

I get ready to go home, and phone work to see if I've left my ring there. I have a habit of taking it off and dropping it in one of the cups of water I occasionally leave, just to clear the dirt and fingerprints off. In the worst case, that cup, and the ring, have gone into the plastic cup recycling bin.
No one's seen it. Just my luck.

I get another taxi home and the first thing I do when I get in is to go straight back out to the local park, where ducks and waterbirds are known to make their homes. After checking whether I was disturbing a guy who was fishing (i wasn't) I set up the tripod and start shooting (with the camera!!) the local waterbirds.

Okay so they weren't the most cooperative of subjects, and having just got the camera (which comes with a 204 page manual!) I had a couple of teething problems, but the camera made it so easy to just rattle off shot after shot after shot. I came home, downloaded the photos, and picked the best ones out. Some came out pretty good, considering it was my first time out with the camera.

But I was still worried about my ring and having failed to find it over the course of the night, I became really upset (not teary or anything just upset) about losing something that was a gift from my parents.

Determined not to get too upset about it, I decided to concentrate on my camera. I absolutely love it, it's worth every penny of the £800 that I agreed to pay for it. It's a rock solid tank of a camera. Incredibly versatile, extremely powerful, it's just a bloody good camera to be behind.

The following morning, I woke up, pain free, ready to go to work. Feeling somewhat under-dressed without my ring, I went to work and settled into the tedious mediocrity of the job. And that's all I did for several hours.

Unfortunatley at lunch, a sandwich worked its way to the sore side of my mouth and without noticing, I bit down on it, putting loads of pressure on my already sore jaw.
Well that was it for me, I spent the next 5 minutes in so much pain I literally felt like I was going to throw up. Over time of course it subsided, but was still somewhere between "substantially" and "very painful" on the f┼▒ckenstein meter (for further info, buy this, and watch it!), and it kinda faded over time, turning into something slightly worse thana dull ache...

However, I did eventually espy (it is a word) my ring on the manager's desk, and after a few conversations it turned out that someone had fished it out of the recycle bin and handed it in :).

Fantaaaaaaaaaastic!! I've got my ring back! NOTE TO SELF: Take better care of it next time.

But unfortunatley, my jawache got worse, exacerbated by the cold air outside. By the time I was at the bus stop I was holding my hand to my jaw and swearing every time a vehicle went past that wasn't my bus.
Of course on the bus it got worse. Not only did we get stuck in rush hour traffic, not only did the driver let every damn vehicle in front of him pull out first, not only did the cold air inside the bus set my jaw off even more, not only did the vibrations from the bus put my jaw in considerable pain, but driving over Sheffield's bomb-cratered, funding-free roads made my pain all the much worse.

Eventually I got home, explained that I'd found my ring, sank a couple of anadin extra (painkillers) and snuggled into bed to try and escape the now severe pain in my jaw.
I woke up bout 3 hours ago, pain free, and have been sitting chilling about taking photos and stuff.

But anyway, I'm off now because I want to eat the mozzerella and tomato slice I bought at work. I would have eaten it earlier. My jaw has the merest twinge of tenderness, so it's on the mend.

But anyway here are the photos, you can see what an awesome piece of kit my camera is :). (the photos of the 2 cameras are taken with my 3rd camera, a samsung 200 point and click thingie - the flash is a bit severe...)

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Yay! Dental pain again!

Picture the scene. It's 12:10AM. I'm just about ready to go to bed, to have an early night (some 2 hours early). I've got my glass of lemonade, a cadbury's creme egg (I've taken a liking to these for some reason), I'm snuggling down in bed in my now-tidy room, having put dilbert on the TV and said bye to all my pals on MSN.

I... hmm...
What's a less toddlerish word than "snuggle?"

Hmm *shrugs*

I snuggle into bed after finishing my lemonade/egg, and fall to sleep surprisingly quickly with Dilbert on the TV.


I wake up. It's dark (duh!). I hit the illuminate button on the clock - 04:10. A little soreness in my gum/jaw tells me that I've just crunched my teeth, two back molars, badly. The initial pain quickly subsides though, and because i'm not prone to crunching my teeth, I shrug and go back to sleep.

I wake up later, hoping it's 5am and I can go back to sleep... spitefully, my alarm goes off two minutes later. I angrily bring a sleepy fist down on the top of the alarm, knocking it over, groan, and roll over, considering going back to sleep. To be fair though I had had an early night, so with a groan, I get out of bed, noting that my gum is pretty sore.

And that's the start of a bad day really, I sat through an interminable day at work, accompanied by a dull but definite ache from my jaw, punctuated with brief colourful splashes of extreme pain. I go to the "restroom" (whatever) and am relieved to see that my teeth are fine. Well. No worse than usual anyway.

But, the pain lasts the whole day, and admitting defeat after getting home, I try to avoid it by climbing into bed and going to sleep again.

I wake up at 9pm, and my jaw hurts like hell. The pain's got WORSE not better. In desperation, I sink a couple of paracetomol and consider going back to sleep. Instead, I decide to sit here and write this, describing the sensation of toothache in no less than 358 words. Yes, I am dangerously boring.

I'm put in mind of Dilbert again: Occasionally at staff meetings, he [wally] gives the [Pointy-Haired Boss] the "Wally report": an overdramatic, story-like report detailing his weekly "accomplishments" which are always trivial if not nonexistent.

Sounds dangerously like the latest blog entry, don't you think hehe...

Now the paracetomol's taken effect though and now I can barely feel the ache in my jaw, let's concentrate on what else I have been up to.

Well, on monday I arose earlyish and went to the local nature reserve to do some photography. I have to admit, some of them came out pretty well. I ruined a good half of the photos by being too excitable and jabbing the shutter enough to shake the camera, which wasn't helped by the fact that the cheap and nasty tripod is only slightly more rigid than a leaf spring. I got in a good day's shooting though and after going to Meadowhall to look at DSLR's came back with a few decent pictures.

And that's about it really, not much to report, but hey, have a look at these pictures that I took and see what you think :). They could be better, but I'm pretty happy with them - not bad for a first try :).

And finally as an aside, I want to show you a photo (not one of mine) of what I think is possibly the cutest creature on the face of the planet: A baby sea lion pup...

Incredibly cute!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Jingle Hells...

Yes, at the moment the UK is in the grip of what we Brits (perhaps laughably by canadian or siberian or arctic standards) call "severe weather". Storms have caused a huge amount of trouble and so far we're getting a good old sprinkling of snow.

Which is good I suppose. Not for the people who've been hurt in the storms, but it's simply nice to see some snow for a change. It gives the sky depth, gives a place atmosphere.
And hopefully, if it keeps this up, it will give me tomorrow off work!

Night all!