Sunday, October 31, 2010

Spooky goings on

Well, it's started early. Just gone 5pm and I've just seen the first little ones wandering around with their rubber bats, wizards' staffs, spellbooks and pet dragons.
Okay maybe not rubber bats. Still.

Yep, for my part I'm sitting inside waiting for my ickle nephew to come back home so that I can take him out to get him lots of yummy sweets, treats, and other things that rhyme with that.
Already, we've (just) had our first visitors, (make that second group of visitors as of 17:13) and I'm feeling pretty cheerful (or should that be "fearful?" Mwahahaha).

My dad's doing a good job of keeping visitors filled up with tasty treats, I'm sitting about playing with my cameras, and drinking a terrible cup of coffee to try to get over the aftereffects of the halloween/wedding/new camera celebratory drink and meal last night.

Yep, the D90 is now mine, and a very shiny piece of electronic equipment it is too.

AND, my ickle nephew has just turned up, so I'll carry this on later :-).

5 Hours later: Well, didn't the little guy do well :-). He turned up with his cute little devil costume, complete with a tridenty pitchforky type thing and a clever little bag on a stick for storing his sweet treats in.
Just before I took him out, I noticed that it was throwing it down. I initially suggested that I was going to wait until it had stopped. In retrospect it's a good thing that I didn't, as the rain continued for the next 30 or 40 minutes. Oh, it bucketed it down, and we were practically the only group out there, both very wet indeed. Eventually the rain stopped though, which made our time more pleasant. I didn't go dressed up, I was there in more of a supervisory/keeping him company capacity, but nevertheless one kind person did give me my own personal bag of Milky Way Magic Stars, hehe!
We visited loads of houses, and as his sweet-bag-on-a-stick got heavier and heavier, it started bending the stick, which was really just thick wire. After helpfully bending it into a carrying handle and hooking it onto the other side of his sweet bag, normal service was resumed.

So yeah, the little fella got loads and LOADS of sweets, the sweet bag thing was almost full. He ended up with 8 packets of maltesers (which he was on a quest to collect), which he thought was fantastic.


Yep, I finally got my hands on my D90, and what can I say. It's a beautiful piece of kit, nice and shiny and sparkly, and the image quality on the high resolution screen on the back is so perfect it it's almost three dimensional. Seriously, the screen is that awesome, it makes even bad pictures look great!

So yeah. I'm quite cheerful. Yay :-).

I hope my bloody coffee cup turns up. Grr. I'm still waiting for that thing!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Christmas Cakes!

Yep, we've not even got to Halloween yet, and I've already got 5 minutes of "christmas 2010 videos" saved on my camera. For today you see, (and yesterday I spose) we prepared...

The Christmas Cake! Dun Dun Dunnn. Yep, apparently you have to let the fruit soak overnight in brandy to give it some flavour, and then you have to let the cake soak in er, cake, for about 8 weeks, to, well, give it some more flavour.
Fair enough. After a while of preparing it and shoving it in the oven, I had to cycle down to the next town to post a couple of parcels for ebay, which was nice and pleasant.
It would have been more pleasant if I hadn't have run into a pothole and gone over more or less on my face, but hey the only thing I hurt was my price and even the bike bent back into shape pretty easily so it was only a minor blip on an otherwise good day.

So yeah, I've started thinking what pressies to buy for people, my mum has started watching christmas movies, and my nephew has started circling stuff he wants in his very own copy of the Argos catalogue. Finances are becoming a bit of a stretch at the minute, as the money that goes out, goes out BEFORE other money comes in, so even though there's a fair bit of money going in both directions, I find myself fairly skint from time to time. Not to worry though, I will sort myself out through the magic of eBay :-).

Finally though, it seems my nephew's parents HAVE bought him a costume and some other stuff, so I'm looking forward to taking the lil guy around trick-or-treating on Sunday night, at which time I should have recovered from my buying-a-new-camera celebration hangover. I can give him the sweets and stuff I've got for him too, then :-).

Well, more to come on sunday I spose.

UPDATE 20:27 (sounds like a computer game or something): Well, after hearing a few fireworks in the past few days, I've just looked out of the window to see the first fireworks I've seen this year (not counting the early hours of January the first, obviously). Nothing major, sort of exploding roman candle thingies.

This reminds me to look forward to a miniature fireworks party type thing that my sister is having around Bonfire Night. I like this time of year, all festive and celebration-y :-).

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Coffee, Cameras and Cresso...

20:21, the previous night:

Well, my nephew certainly likes his dens. Yep, after a short time of pleading, he's convinced me to build him another den in his bedroom. I've always been good at building them, and this one is no exception. Not too big, but it has a "light strip" where the bedroom light shines through the "ceiling" so he can play on his GBA, which seems to be serving as a surrogate DS at the moment. He can even sit on his little piano seat to play, which is cool as it leaves me more floor space to stretch my legs.
Actually scratch that, I've just tried it and nearly knocked the thing down on the top of us.

Present Day: Dun Dun Dunn...

I've never had writer's block before. Or whatever this thing is that seems quite similar to writer's block.
I'm sat here staring at the screen trying to figure out what to commit to paper, so to speak, and the words simply will not enter my mind. Maybe I'm distracted, I dunno. I've been sat here staring into space for 15 minutes.

And if it is writer's block, it's not actually true that I've never had it before (see Ink and Incability, september 2009), so maybe it's just a seasonal thing, I dunno.
Still at least it's given me an opening.

So, what's going on? Well, I'm still waiting for my coffee cup to come.
Yes, I bought a coffee cup. Quite a shiny and cool coffee cup. Me being the camera fanatic that I am, I saw this rather fetching replica of a Nikon lens, that serves as a coffee cup. They're supposed to be quite sparkly, turning the zoom ring extends the coffee cup just like a real lens, and the level of details is supposed to be very good. So despite the £15 price I decided I had to go and have one, so I've got one on the way. Unfortunately since it's coming from Hong Kong, I've "had one on the way" for the past 20 days, and it still hasn't turned up. Irritating since something else from HK that I ordered at the same time arrived 2 days later. Oh well, can't win em all.

Now, I've been looking at getting a second camera body, for a couple of reasons. There are various practical reasons, but the most important of which is that I'm a sucker for a good deal, particularly when it's something I wanted before someone offered me the deal.

The market, or the "high street" as it's affectionately referred to by hmm, let's call them "morons", selling the items would probably sell them seperately. So you have an undisclosed camera body retailing for £579.99-£729.99 (such an insane difference in price depending on where you go! We'll go with the cheaper prices). So yeah. £579.99. The lens that it comes with? Hmm let's go with the shop selling it for £209.99. Then it comes with a battery grip at £104.50 and 2 batteries at £20 a piece. Then it comes with a clever wrist strap thing at £45, and a lens filter at £35. Yikes, all you wanted was a camera and before you know it you've spent £1014.48. [Edit, 1st November: £1229.92 in total if your luck is sucky enough that you end up going to the most expensive places...]

Fortunately for me, my good old mate Nick wants to er, dedicate himself to his D2h, and in an effort to raise some cash, is letting me have the whole lot for £500! Not a small amount of money to spend, but a pretty damn good deal all the same! The awesome thing (and the understanding) is that, I dno't need the 18-105 that comes with the D90 - I've already got one :). So Instead of paying £450 for the camera and battery grip, I'm paying £50 extra for the lens, so I can sell it for £150-200 and reduce the kick in the wallet from the camera. Clever stuff :-).

Not much happening other than that I suppose, though with halloween coming up, my ickle nephew is lamenting the fact that he won't be going out trick or treating. Apparently nobody can be bothered to get him a costume :(.

Oh well, I'm sure we'll have tpo sort something out, at least sweets-wise. I'll be more open to the question once he's stopped acting up.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Concerns and Cutbacks

How do, folksies...

Well, I've been putting it off for over a week, I suppose I had best get it over with.

On the advice of the training staff at the training regiment, I have left army training. I am therefore no longer a training, or paid, member of HM Armed Forces.

What happened?
Well, it seems that my little episode on the top of the hill (the one where I collapsed and threw up everywhere - remember that one?) dented my confidence a little bit. Instead of looking forward to PT sessions, I warily looked across at them on the horizon in the same way that a kid would view a dentist's appointment with apprehension.

Unfortunately, that's not a healthy attitude to have in training for the Army, which as you can imagine has a habit of being physically demanding. The more PT we had, the more stressed I got.
At one point, I went down to the med centre complaining of stomach cramps, vomiting, chills etc etc, wanting to know what I had caught or whatever. All the tests came back normal, leaving one conclusion: Stress.

I'm not sure what to think of it now, I felt crappy, I hadn't eaten for a couple of days, token attempts at eating had resulted in me being unable to keep down whatever I had eaten (I'm trying to be subtle, believe me), I had stomach cramp, and I was basically too busy feeling ill to really concentrate on what I needed to do.

After my collapse on the run, the training staff had noticed me becoming more withdrawn and nervous leading up to, and during PT sessions. Of course I put 100% effort in, because I didn't want to let either myself down or my teammates down, but they could see that I really didn't want to be in phys, and was stressing about it. This coupled with the fact that I had been sent to Physiotherapy for a shin problem (where it was found I also have a knee problem (it never rains, it pours! (Hey it's that nested sentences thing again!))) raised questions about my ability to complete training without injuring myself (accidentally, that is).

So after a couple of informal conversations along the lines of "How are you liking it?" "I'm not, sir, I wish I was", the training staff decided the best thing for me - mentally as well as physically, I guess, would be to send me home.
I didn't know this - the first I knew about any decision having actually being made is when the sergeant casually slips into conversation "You're de-kitting tomorrow", which kinda threw me: One minute the powers that be knew I wasn't 100% happy but was still getting through it all, the next minute they'd decided that home was the place for me, for now.

But, a couple of days later, I'd said goodbye to all the friends (and all the annoying sods) I'd come to know over the past 7 weeks, and had been moved into a holding platoon on the edge of the camp where no one had to look at us, us dirty civvies-to-be preparing for a return to civilian life and whatnot.
Still, a very sedentary 6 days later, and I was stood on the platform at the train station with all my stuff, ready to come home. Three hours later, I walked through the front door of my house for the first time in 7 and a half weeks. The Army's gates had closed behind me.

But not permanently...

You see, it seems that even though I wasn't really enjoying the training, and was struggling to cope a bit at times, it was decided that (and noted in my official report that) this was due to stress, brought on by an aversion to physical training, itself brought on by me keeling over on that big sodding hill.
"Go home, work on your Phys, if you can smash your phys, you're sorted" advised one of the corporals. So they've left the door open for me, I've been discharged as unfit for army service, with a recommendation to return in two years. Granted, in 2 years I'll be 27, but two of us there were 25, one was 27, one was 30 and one was 32. So I woudn't be pushing the age limits, if I did return. "Don't stress about the 'unfit'" said another corporal. "You're not a bad recruit, it only means you're physically unfit NOW. Go home, sort your phys out, come back, and you'll be way ahead of everyone else cos you've already done half of it".

So here I am, sat at home, at my computer. The rest of the lads are finishing up their range week. I'm glad to be back home, it's good to be back.

Importantly though, looking back on my time at the ATR, I look back on it as a good experience. There were crap times and tempers got frayed at some points during the nearly-2-months I was there, but all in all, it was a very good experience, and I'm proud to have done it.

Will I go back? I don't know. That depends what happens in the next two years. I've only been back 10 days, I want to get my head together before I decide what happens next.
What I don't want to do is settle into my old routine. Time to start looking for opportunities to do things differently maybe. Some 3D work in the near future has already come up, let's see how that pans out.

Now I've got a nice awesome Cresso with my mate Nick to look forward to. I hear he may have an offer for me. Let's see how that works out too :-).