Ravings From The Bog


Sabbatical

749px-I-276.svgI’m taking the month of September off. Not off work, but off Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, WordPress, Flickr and the many other distractions that have kept me from proper family/personal time over the last few months. I’ll still be checking my email and perhaps be online for five minutes at a time checking bank balances and cinema times, etc, but that’s it.

It’s an experiment of sorts. I tend to be easily distracted and lose myself for hours on teh internets which has created not a little tension at home, but I also feel that my thought processes are actually being affected by the flittering about that this fine Apple iMac allows me by having so many programs running at once!

So, from tonight at midnight, I intend to use the time saved to do the jobs that have been left undone, to spend more time with my wife and kids (!) and to fix various broken things, and cut the grass rather than pay somebody to do it twice a month, and get moving on a number of things that the “internet inertia” has stopped me from doing.

Now, I could be smart and say that the graphic above represents me “hitting the road” from the internet, but I’ll be honest instead and admit that I weigh 276lbs. My intention in being that honest is to force myself to be looking for a sign for Interstate 256 to post on 1 October – in other words, get off my arse and get some exercise. I intend to take seriously the idea of eating properly (not just my Branflakes) and losing some weight and keeping it off.

I have various other similar intentions for the month of September, regarding work, finance, leisure time, etc.

Wish me luck!



Good Weekend

ef75-300_is_usmI have had a pretty good weekend. I treated myself to this little beauty on the way home from work on Friday. The weather being what it is at the moment, I haven’t had the chance to use it at all, but I’m hoping to get some practice shots tomorrow as I am off work. It’s a Canon 75-300mm IS USM lens. I have a Canon 350D DSLR that I haven’t been using much lately as I’ve been bored with the 18-55mm standard lens that comes with the body and I’ve been using the Fuji Finepix A5800 much more (see the Flickr link to the left of this post). I’ve always thought that Jessops were pretty expensive but having priced this lens in various photography mags and on Amazon, I got it cheaper at Jessops.

What else happened over the weekend? On Saturday, apart from the usual workday, three things.

I got a telephone call from a friend telling me she’s expecting a baby next March. I am delighted for her and really pleased that she took the time to let me know.

I also ran into my aunt and uncle in work and I haven’t seen them in a few years. It’s mainly weddings and funerals in my family but I’m always delighted to see family I haven’t seen in some time. My uncle has been made redundant after thirty years with Easons – I didn’t know this when I started talking to them – which is really sad. It would appear that Easons made some unfortunate investment decisions and as a result have moved from a very strong position in the Irish and Northern Irish markets to being perilously close to the abyss. They saw my picture in a mail-shot brochure advertising the recent changes in my store and decided to try it as a result. They’re in a strong position so there are no worries from that angle but I can imagine how I’d feel in a similar situation.

A few hours later, I’m heading towards the staff restaurant and I recognise a face I haven’t seen in at least twenty five years. He recognised me too – we both had a “double take”. He is the older brother of a girlfriend I “courted” from 1981-1983. We spent twenty minutes talking about old times and catching up on family news. His GRANDCHILDREN were running about while we were talking. Last time I saw him he was twenty two! He introduced me to his wife and I gave him my mob number. Really nice to see him!

Today, the news is good also…

My daughter’s boyfriend has returned home to Sussex after two weeks staying in our house. I finally get my house back.

I made a decision today to sell my Land Rover. More to follow on that one.

I went to see Inglourious Basterds – lots of hype about this movie, most of it true. Enjoyable, but as I’m not really into fantasy cinema, I cannot enthuse about it too much. As I described it on Twitter earlier this evening, it’s like a story from Commandos magazine that’s been written by someone on crack!

Lastly, my friend @Braziel re-blogged on his tumblr page this evening a post by Merlin Mann. It inspired me to get the laptop out and write something, anything, as I’ve been neglecting this blog for some time. The link is at the bottom of this post. It’s worth a read. I love Mann’s directness and the passion in his writing. I’d love to write something with such emotion some day, but for the moment, you’ll just have to put up with this!

Braziel\’s Tumblr



Grrrrrrr!
July 16, 2009, 10:07 pm
Filed under: Blogging, Podcasts, Stress, Technology, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , ,

Recent frustrations with my wireless connection at home resulted in me getting not a little miffed and, after trying everything else, resetting my router. This had the effect of wiping out the settings for my connection and I have been unable to reset the wifi for the last two days.

This has had a number of impacts on my life:

  1. I find myself with “time” on my hands. No constant browsing, Twittering, or gazing at a screen has resulted in a startling realisation that I need to find something else to do, like read, or watch TV, or God forbid, exercise.
  2. I spent yesterday evening in the front (TV) room of the house from 1915 until 2230. This is unheard of. I was receiving strange looks from my wife and son who were unsettled, to say the least.
  3. Yesterday, I bought a Belkin router. Sadly, the CD within was only for Windows XP and older (!) Windows systems – thwarted! This evening, I’m typing this into Word to copy and paste onto WordPress when I finally get my wifi restored.  So this is like a computer fix….
  4. I also bought a T-Mobile laptop dongle thingy which cost £29 plus change – and it’s really crap and intermittent. I also unfortunately spent £30 on airtime, which I’ll use up before I bring the dongle back for a refund. Fucking useless piece of shit.
  5. I’m starting to run out of podcasts! I’m finally catching up with Fresh Air podcasts that I downloaded as far back as last year. This is good news but they’re a little out of sync when I’m listening to pundits etc talking about how they think Obama will fare when he’s finally inaugurated!
  6. Yesterday, I drove a 38 mile round trip to pick up my Macbook so I could use it in an internet café at lunch time to send an email and follow up on some tweets on Tweetdeck and get an internet fix – how sad am I?

So, tomorrow, on my day off, I’ll be visiting Carphone Warehouse to see what they can do to restore my sanity. If their broadband was all it is cracked up to be, I wouldn’t have had to reset the router etc, bastards! I think I’ll go a little postal on their asses!!!



Puerto Banus, Marbella
June 16, 2009, 10:38 am
Filed under: Foreign Travel, History, Nostalgia, Technology, Thoughts | Tags: , , ,

I arrived yesterday morning around 1110 and once I got my Fix It Again Tony rental Punto sorted, I stopped off at the Spanish National Aeronautical Museum. This is just outside Malaga Airport, and I had often seen the DC3 static display (C47 to us military modeling folk!) parked near the airport but could never find out how to get there. Thank you Google Earth!

A very friendly Spanish chap called Joachim allowed me to see the external exhibits even though the museum was closed (every Monday).

Photos to follow. 

Off to Puerto Banus itself, then, with a 50km drive down the motorway. Lunch at Marrush, the Lebanese restaurant, and then grocery shopping. 😦

Off now to take some pictures along the beach and into the port. I may try to post a video later, but I’m leeching off someone’s wifi connection and it’s very slow.



Even Wind Turbines Get A Day Off!

Wind Turbine Green EnergyI didn’t realise I could get this close to the local wind turbine (North Down Borough Council’s lip service to the Green agenda). I really expected it to be protected from potential “terrorist/freedom fighter” action.

I really love the shape of the cowling of the propeller. It has a taste of nostalgia to me as it reminds me of many of the engine cowlings on Airfix aircraft models I assembled over the years. Cracking day today too!

My Flikr Photostream (for more pictures)



CupCakeCampNI – 15/8/09 Belfast
April 3, 2009, 11:43 am
Filed under: Belfast, Entertainment, Fun, Technology | Tags: , , ,

CupCakeNIThe first Northern Ireland CupCakeCamp takes place on 15 August at Blick Shared Studios, 51 Malone Road, Belfast. It kicks off at 1200 and runs until 1600.

CupCakeCamp is an ad-hoc gathering born from the desire for people to share and eat cupcakes in an open environment.

It will be a fun day with fun people. You don’t need to have any baking skills but if you have, you can enter your creations into the competition.

Check with @doorofkukundo on Twitter or click on this link:

http://cupcakecampni.org/2009/04/02/a-post-for-those-confused/

For some more information on the Cupcake phenomonon:

http://cupcakestakethecake.blogspot.com/2008/05/cupcake-interview-cupcakecamp-organizer.html

Enjoy!



Twitter – It’s A Way Of Life
February 21, 2009, 8:08 pm
Filed under: Blogging, Society, Technology, Thoughts, UK | Tags: , , , ,

picture-2I’ve been using Twitter since August last year. I cannot remember why I signed up to use it and I’ve only a vague recollection of it’s existence before then. Since then, the phenomenon has grown greatly, particularly through some celebrity endorsement from Stephen Fry (@stephenfry) and Jonathan Ross (@wossy) here in the UK. The premise if simple. Upload a message of up to 140 characters, which can be all text or can include a link to a picture on Twitpic or another service, or a link to a web page. I can vouch for it’s addictiveness – I would rarely take a bathroom break now at work without checking in on my iPhone! 

Twitter’s uses are as varied as the messages and content that Tweeters put on it. It can sustain a direct conversation between two Tweeters who follow each other. It can be a marketing tool. It can be just a way to vent on some subject that is vexing you at the time. It can be a means to share good or bad news instantaneously – reference the aircraft crash-landing into the Hudson River recently. It was news across the world via Twitter long before the news services got to the story. And many, many other uses, such as organising people quickly and easily for political or charity-based events. A recent world-wide Twestival was held to raise money for the charity:water organisation – over $500,000 was raised in one night across 175 cities.

For me, however, it provides a sense of community, some great links to information I wouldn’t normally get and humour. That human relationships can develop on nothing more than 140 characters at a time, is the best testament for Twitter.   

The montage above shows my “followers” a few days ago. It gives a flavour of the diversity of the users of this tool. Try it, you’ll love it!