Friday, April 16, 2010

Brides, Bouquets, and Bikes...

It's traditional at this point for me to start with something along the lines of "hmm, where to start", but any regular readers will already know the established pattern these little forays into what my best mate Nick calls "Squid (my nickname) world" follow; that is, the lack of any pattern whatsoever. I'm organising it with grandiose titles simply to give myself a set of mental boxes that I can easily shove the events of the last few weeks into...

Part One: Bike Stuff

So, the weather. Seems a good place to start, it's big, up there, in the sky, and affects all of us. And we've actually been having a varied and not-unpleasant time of it. The overcast days are still here, there and everywhere, but when the sun does pop through the clouds, it's extremely warm, almost sunburny warm.

After years of disrepair (the roof, not my neighbour), my neighbour decided to hack his old garage roof to pieces. Given that it was constructed mostly of sodden plywood, this was easily accomplished with a crowbar and a hammer, and after a couple of hours and clouds of dust, the entire thing more or less fell in (covering the items still left in the garage in a layer of wood chippings). Finding a snow shovel in there, I nicely and helpfully (it was a nice day that I was determined not to waste by staying indoors) helped clean up all the mess. Music was listened to, water was drank, and sunshine was collided with, and a good time was had by all. Especially the friendly neighbourhood robin (that's a real robin, not an American robin :P) who occasionally fluttered down to almost within arm's length, stared at my neighbour, casually picked up a spider (who I suppose wasn't having such a good time) and flew off.

While we're cleaning stuff out of the garage, I casually express interest in (what was at the time) a knackered scruffy old bike, covered in rust, dirty chain oil that had since turned to sludge, spiderwebs, leaves, and the ever present wood chippings. My neighbour points out that he was going to throw the thing in a skip, but given my awesome expertise at fixing broken things (hee, where's the modesty?!) I saw potential in it. A fairly offhand "you can have it if you want" later, and my net worth had increased by approximately one rusty mountain bike.
Of course, I spent the next couple of days on the floor, surrounded by socket sets, spanners, screwdrivers, parrafin (excellent at dissolving oil, and consequently an extremely good (if hazardous!) cleaning fluid), and various spraycans of lubricant and whatnot, and would you know, the bike cleaned up pretty well. £15 later, and thanks to ebay I had a new set of pedals, and a new seat (both of which were missing off the bike). The original water bottle was binned (it probably had a new form of life developing in it - I didn't look) and replaced with a new one. So now (apart from the minor problem that shifting from second to third gear on the front sprocket causes the chain to jump off the sprockets altogether - it needs adjusting apparently...) I now have a shiny and working mountain bike. With a kickstand. Yay!

Part Two: Manchester Stuff

Around the same time I also went out with Nick again to Manchester Airport for another day's shooting, which was a pretty good day out. Plenty of good photos were had, and I came away from that feeling pretty cheerful. I gather that they (the aviation viewing park) have since put their admission prices up from £7 to £12! So while we will be going to manchester again, I don't know if we will be going to the viewing park.
This in itself isn't such a bad thing, because while you can get close to the planes at the viewing park, the light comes from directly behind the aircraft, so the lighting isn't that great. Whereas on the other side of the runway, facing towards the terminal, the light is behind you, and the aircraft land much closer to on-top-of-your-head, so you get a better view.
Which one do you prefer? This, or this? (Neither image is mine)

So we'll have to see how that works out.

Part Three: Domestic Stuff

One thing my nephew and I have been spending a lot of time with recently, is playing "the truck game", that is "UK Truck simulator". You know the type, drive a truck, get paid, use the money to upgrade your truck, and ultimately buy other trucks and hire people to work for you. Sounds repetitive and boring but I have to admit it's actually pretty sodding addictive and surprisingly relaxing, and the graphics are very good. I've been playing it far more than I expected to be. My nephew continues to be cuddly and hyper, and occasionally infuriatingly annoying, but it's nice to have him around.
We've also been joined, recently by a slightly scruffy terrier-type dog, that goes by the name of Ollie. He seems far less hyper than Tess did, and I think therefore he'll be less hard work for my sis to look after :-). Not being a fan of scruffy type dogs, I wasn't initially struck on him, but he's settled down and seems quite cute and endearing, so I'm getting to like him.

Part Four: Wedding

Not last, and certainly not least, I've had occasion to go and do photography for a wedding recently. My gadget-loving brother and my fantastic (now) sister in law, have tied the knot in a happy and well-attended ceremony (full of super death DSLR Turbo XL cameras) and have now officially made our family slightly larger, which is good.

The reception was quite nice, lots of alkyhol was drunk, squillions of photos were taken (the bit where they posed for the photographers to cut the cake was amusing, I've seen film premiers on TV with less camera flash, and for about 15 seconds straight, the entire room was lit by the brilliant staccatto flashes of 20 or 30 cameras all discharging their bright-type shinyness at the happily married couple. I'm surprised they were able to see after all that.

The food was good, the party was good, and hopefully my Big bro and (possibly?) Big sis (?) liked their wedding photos, which were presented towards the end of the night.

I haven't done a full in-depth review of the wedding because well, it's their business really, but it was a nice happy occasion and I think it went well, and everyone concerned put a huge amount of work into it, especially my bro and (new) sister in law. My brother says he now wants to institute "games nights" at his house. I'm trying to persuade him to start hosting Khet tournaments, or maybe Star Wars Monopoly games, either one would be quite cool. It's about time we got together more often :-).

Part five: Ipod Stuff

Finally, my ipod continues to be awesome and shiny. I've downloaded more software for it than I expected to, some of which is actually quite good. Not much to say on this front, but the whole thing seems to be working out quite well. I've got all my stuff on it and still have 30+ Gb to play with, so I might stick some more of my DVDs on there.

So yeah, I'm sorry I've left it such a long time. As the weather seems to be improving, I've been spending a lot of time with my nephew in the park, with my mountain bike in the park, with the sun and clouds everywhere, and with my pillows and suchlike in my bed. Everything seems to be ticking along nicely, and hopefully, we're watching the start of a good summer.


Thursday, April 01, 2010

The clock goes forward

Stupid thing to say, really.

Clocks don't go "forward", they go "ring", others go "beep" , expensive ones go "tick-tock", and most go round in circles, but I've never seen one going "forward". However, as a result of arsing around with the clocks, I've lost an hour, not only in terms of lost drinking time, but in more literal terms, lost an hour sodding about reprogramming the... *counts*... 9 timepieces, or devices incorporating the above, in my room.

But we are apparently now in spring, which in England means that the wintery sunsets are slightly less wintery, the snow is now more sleet than anything else, and occasionally the sun is visible through the clouds. Elsewhere in the world, Formula One has started, which means it should be nicely in full swing when the weather improves.
When it improves here though is not really well known, as we leave winter and enter spring, the weather has of course become snowy again in places. The worst we've had so far is some hail and sleet, nothing serious, but the gorgeously warm sunny days, of which we've already had one so far, seem to be tantalisingly rare at the moment.

Not to worry though, as apart from my running, I seem to have spent most of my time indoors anyway. While indoors I've been doing lots of things, such as sleeping, resting, laying down, and surfing the internet, both on my pc and my iPod.

my iPod has seen heavy use. While I wasn't in the market for anything more than an mp3/video player, the iPod has not so much filled a gap, as filled it in, before expanding to fill new territories of awesomeness.

It became more awesome recently when I purchased two new bits for it. The first one is a tiny little thing that makes all the difference - I've got another plastic backing for it, this time in gorgeous deep lustrous metallic red. Okay so it's a piece of plastic, but that colour is just the sort of colour I'd want on my car. it's so metallic it's almost three dimensional.
Helps keep scratches/fingerprints off the back of the unit, too.

The second thing is even better, described by my nephew as "the Sound Egg", is a fantastic piece of kit. Having been put onto this by my brother, who I may have mentioned, loves his gadgets, I thought I'd have a look at one.
I've been skeptical about pocket speakers, because common sense dictates that the smaller a speaker, the tinnier and crappier its sound. And at less than 40mm wide (the speaker itself, not the housing), surely this speaker would sound like a dog whistle, right? Well, actually in the case of this little ball of win, that's far from the truth. Think about it, would I have asked a snotty rhetorical question if it wasn't?
There are quite a lot of places selling them at £30-£40 per unit, I was able to grab one for £13,99 plus £2.75 (superfast apparently) postage (£2.75 wasted because it still took four days to arrive), and it's safe to say that for £14 a pop I'd easily have another. I'm not going to do a full in depth review, but needless to say I think this thing is fantastic. It expands open like an accordion to give the speaker more space to do its stuff, resulting in much louder bass, and a much more powerful sound. The speaker's not tinny, it sounds absolutely fantastic.

So yeah.

Also, with easter upon us, my nephew seems happy to share his easter egg with me. I want to get one as well, there's a very nice one in the local shop, it's currently reduced from £12 (!!) and comes with some lovely looking chocolates. Yum, chocolate.
Also, my nephew made me a super cute easter basket, including a cute little fluffy chick and brightly coloured tissue paper. Cute of him.

Well, that's all for now I suppose, there's not been a lot happening. Still, at least the days are getting lighter now, helped in no small part by this whole moving clocks business.

I leave you with some pictures :-).