Thursday, July 21, 2011

Shuttles, Bikes and Climbing Frames...


I would yawn, but I'm not that sleepy.

I'm tired, yes, extremely physically tired, my legs, arms and lower back ache from 3 hours of cycling up, down, around, across, over, between, and well, I'm sure you get the idea.
See, one of the things that I like about my job, is that when people are in a nice mood, they give me lovely gifts of money or tips.
These tips go in a Jar (a plastic bag actually), until they accumulate enough to represent a decent amount of money.

Back at the start of the year, or even as late as the end of last year, you may have seen me mention that I was saving up for a new bike, one with suspension, that didn't jiggle me about so much when it came to kerbs and suchlike. But for whatever reason, no sooner would I start saving, than some personal financial crisis would appear and devour my money. Whether college fees or bus fare or whatever, despite the generous and substantial help from my parents, money seems to have been really tight for the past few months.
It's only recently that I've started to have a disposable income again.

Eventually, the tips built up to the right amount, and after weeks of agonising, I chose and ordered a new bike to replace my cool but slightly rusty (with finnicky gears that didn't work properly) and kinda uncomfortable other bike, with something more suited to my style of riding.
I ride on the pavement a fair bit, but I also enjoy riding dirt tracks and whathave you, and so the various potholes, kerbs, tree roots, protuding stones etc made a ride without suspension kinda tough on some sensitive areas.
So I ordered a spangly shiny new one, with suspension, and also with a cool paintjob, and lovely disc brakes instead of standard v brakes.
And today, after putting it together, I went on a lovely zoom around.
After hurting my naughty parts, I carefully rode home, put it together again with a larger spanner, and went on another zoom around, a few hours in length, cycling around all these weird little woodland paths that I've always been curious about.


As for the ickle guy, well I managed to see a poster in the local store advertising an Emergency Services Open Day. As the name suggests, lots of police, ambulances and firetrucks in attendance, lots of fun activities for all the family etc, and I even got to sit in the driving seat of a Police 4X4 (It looked like that <--- one, but not a model) which was cool. The fire fighters were doing demonstrations of fighting fires, the drugs dog was doing a demonstration of searching for drugs, morris dancers were doing impressions of dancers, and the speed camera dudes were trying to convince everyone not to hate them. We saw some awesome birds of prey, some cute rabbits, some strange chickens and rather skinny ducks, the biggest horses that I have ever seen, and 1001 dogs. My mum helpfully got me some helpful information about securing my possessions with the police, which she then helpfully tucked away somewhere where I can't get it.
Whereas my sister seems to throw stuff away if she can't immediately justify keeping it, my mum just seems to hide stuff away if she can't immediately justify not doing so. And since she's a compulsive hide-stuff-away-er, the end results of her interactions with items of property are depressingly similar and predictable. Oh well.

Last week, I took the ickle guy to the a park in another part of town. The area was lucky enough to have some money ploughed into it, (which is ironic given that the area's main block of flats is about to be ploughed into rubble), and as it has only been up a short time, the new park is therefore in decent condition, the local kids not having had enough time to smash the stuff up yet.
They have a couple of slides, a weird cross between a swing and, well, a round thing. It's like a huge dinnerplate attached to a swing, and you sit in it and swing.
They also have a rather terrifyingly tall climbing frame with a slide at the top. This thing is huge. I could climb off the roof of our extension onto it with little trouble.
It is made, instead of rungs, of very taut nylon ropes cunningly arranged so as to be a complete devil to climb. Never mind worrying about falling onto the ground, when I was up there I worried just as much about falling from one part of the construction onto another. Shame - I could have climbed to the top and had a nice view of my nephew being weird.

Or I could if I didn't hate heights, which is why while my nephew was busy climbing like a little climbing spider monkey, I was relaxing in the swinging thing, while keeping a careful eye on him :-).
But again, he seemed to like it. He made a new friend, who gave him a muffin for some reason, and I had a nice time walking him round the little alleyways and suchlike.


That's it really. College has been proceeding apace, with the lessons getting harder and harder, we spend the days examining incrementally smaller and smaller parts of the curriculum, trying to nail out the facts in some semblance of order, before moving onto the next mind-warping revelation.
Today, we did subnetting. Next week we will do it as well, and possibly the week after. It's a confuzzling (and yet kinda awesome and clever and interesting) topic. The occasional giddy rush of fulfilment when the pieces suddenly snap into place, makes the grinding through the facts and texts worth it, I think :-).
Today, we also watched the shuttle land, live. I asked the tutor to let me watch it as a favour (the student computers don't have flash), and to my surprise, a crowd gathered pretty quickly, all evidently keen to watch Atlantis land for the last time. And land she did, without incident thankfully. While she goes on display at Kennedy, NASA and other organisations promise that they are working hard to deliver her replacement.

And that's about it really. Next week should be fun. I've booked 2 days off, so we can take the youngest member of our class out to the pub for his 18th birthday. There are about 8 of us going, and Jack (the kid) insists - get this - that he has things to do, the day after [his 18th birthday celebration!]. How irresponsible is that! He should just cancel those activities, instead of performing them with a huge hangover.
We did all agree not to get him too drunk however, as one of us would have to put him up for the night, and no one wants a sickeningly drunk kid falling around their house.

Of course, how reasoned and sensible we are about it after several beers, remains to be seen. Given the fact that the last time we went for "a quick pint", and that the more we drank, the more drinking more seemed like an awesome idea, I think someone is going to have to show extraordinary presence of mind to make sure, at half 11 at night, that ickle Jack doesn't get left to sleep in a skip somewhere, as is traditional birthday celebration activity, apparently.
But hey. Let's see.

And now, that this is over, I'm going to backup some stuff, and then sod off to bed.
I seem to have become more sleepy in the past few minutes. Very tired actually. I will have to have an early night to ensure I have enough energy to zoom around on my bike again tomorrow.


Friday, July 08, 2011

End of an era...

T minus 1:08.
Yep, I'm sitting here with my dad on a what has turned out to be a very rainy day, watching what is officially the last ever launch of the Space Shuttle, and I have to admit, I think it's a sad occasion. The thing has worked pretty damn well for the past 30 years, it and seems a shame to get rid of the shuttle, especially as there's no immediate replacemen for her. As I said to my dad, it's like the retirement of Concorde all over again.

(Launch countdown is paused at 31 seconds, while they check if something or other has retracted properly).
*Countdown resumes, less than 20 seconds to go*

And the engines have started...

And up she goes. The final liftoff of the space shuttle.
An amazing piece of kit, the Shuttle, I've got, somewhere, a huge framed photo of it that my neighbour brought me back from the space center when I was a little kid, so yeah, it's sad for me to know it's her last flight.

16:31 And the boosters have seperated.

Still on her way up, and apparently she's gonna be up there for 12 days.
But yeah,, she's been off the pad for about 5 minutes, and the shuttle's high enough for the curvature of the earth to be pretty visible

16:38 And the tank has just seperated.

Aaaand, the news has moved on to the news of the world scandal.

So yeah, I'm gonna get ready for work and suchlike, but I figured I should take time out to watch Atlantis go up one last time. Call me sentimental, I don't care.

Have fun, all :-).