Friday, September 29

Lung butter

Did the normal blurry, half-awake walk to the bathroom this morning after the alarm clock had rudely dragged me from my slumber.  Turned on the shower, stared blearily at the fuzzy reflection in the bathroom mirror. 

And suddenly, with no warning, I coughed. 

And it did catch me by surprise, as coughing is not something I do that often anymore..

So it would appear that I may well be getting the first of the winter colds that I seem to get around this time of year, usually about five minutes after the hay fever naffs off.  I'm very curious, however, to see how severe this bout of winter colds are going to be, as this will be my first winter without cigarettes (for about 17 years).  Winter colds used to head straight for my chest, which would mean a good five minutes of hacking coughing fits every morning before I could do anything, and these coughing fits brought up shocking amounts of "lung butter" that nearly cracked the toilet bowl on their explosive exit from my mouth.  Smokers amongst you will, no doubt, know exactly what I am talking about here.

So what will it be like without ciggies?  I'm curious to find out.

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Thursday, September 28

And we're back..

Well as the bloke out of Stain'd once said, "It's been a while", but unlike the bloke from Stain'd I'm not a morose baldy bastard whinging about everything.  I have a full head of hair.

Welcome back one and all, welcome to a new post, on a new day..
It's taken me a while to get back into the swing of reality after the chaos leading up to and including the wedding and the fun-packed honeymoon, I must admit.  It's an odd feeling now not having anything major on the horizon to plan for (as for the previous twelve months we were either waiting for Kirstyn or the wedding to arrive - most of the time, both!).  I must admit the thought of a couple of weeks of routine, peace and quiet sound pretty damn good right now.

Allow me to summarise my points this morning as opposed to me typing out a long rant.

Disneyland Paris was fantastic!
I can honestly recommend this to everyone (whether you have kids or not, to be honest I could have run riot in there).  The level of service there is phenomenal too, you get treated so well (although the place is in France it seems to have a very strong American service industry customer relations ethic).  Some great rides (Star Tours - which I've wanted to go on since I was a kid, Armageddon (shit film, surprisingly good special effects tour), Space Mountain 2, The Rock And Rollercoaster (Avec Aerosmith), etc, etc... Will get some photo's up soon (especially of Café Mickey, a top class restaurant where Disney characters come round and meet and greet you - muchos fun!).

My fave new game - Star Wars Lego II: The Original Trilogy.
Just brilliant.  A wicked sense of humour, a wonderful homage to the original Star Wars trilogy (and Han Solo shoots first in the cut scenes!!), some tricky puzzles and a really good blaster to.  If it's out on your console - get it!!

Funniest thing in the last seven days:  David Bowie on Extras.  I wept with laughter.

Will write more soon.. head's still a wee bit befrazzled at the moment!

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Monday, September 18

Diolch yn fawr

Just a quick posting today (as most of today is being spent getting ready to go and see Mickey Mouse in Paris tomorrow), but just wanted to say a big thank you to all of the friends and family that came to the wedding on Saturday.

Hope everyone who came along had a great time, it all passed very quickly for Liz and I (so forgive me if I didn't get to speak to you at length during the day), particularly as we didn't really get a moment to spare until after dinner (as the photographer held us hostage for most of the time immediately after the ceremony).

However it was great to see so many people made the long journey into the hills and were there to see the day..

..and now I'm an old married man. Be-jesus!!

Posts around here are going to be fairly slim over the next seven days, as I doubt there'll be an internet café in the "House of Mouse".. but I'll be back next week. Hopefully should have some piccies by then too.

Catch y'all later

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Saturday, September 16

Right, that's it..

I'm fucking off to get married.

Might be quiet round here for 24 hours or so as a result..

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Friday, September 15

Calm before the storm..

Listen..


..hear that..?


No..?


Listen again..


Can you hear it now?


The blissful sound of silence.

The house is occupied by me and the cats (both of whom are asleep) and the carnival has now left for Wales. By carnival I of course mean my fiancée, the kids, my parents, her parents and quite a few members of her family, all whipped up into a frenzy of pre-wedding excitment. It was all getting a bit much and I am so glad of this rule about the groom not seeing the bride the night before the wedding as I might get a few stolen moments of peace and quiet.

Not many of course, as I have to naff off to Wales myself soon, and then I'll be heading off into the City to get some food and enjoy a few pleasant shandies to celebrate the "getting on with his career" with Dr Magnetic (he of the very moribund blog)..

This time tomorrow I'll nearly be married.

Weird huh?

Anyway of to sit in silence for a bit now.

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Thursday, September 14

Chicken Licken, The Sky Is Falling In!

Ok, it's not exactly falling in, but there's certainly a lot falling out of it. 
Look. 
Watery shit. 
It's landing everywhere, in large quantities. 
There's puddles the size of Lake Windermere in the car park outside. 
This is not the weather I wanted to see with 48 hours to go to the big day, I can tell thee. 

As you may imagine, weather sites like the excellent MetCheck (http://www.metcheck.com) are being heavily consulted at the moment.  Indeed last night we were comparing and contrasting three different forecasts (the beeb, the Met Office and MetCheck) desperately looking for hope in their predictions for Saturday's weather.  At present it doesn't look too great, I must admit.. there's like 90% cloud predicted for around the 4 o'clock mark.  Okay, at the moment, they're not saying it will rain, but if you've seen how wildly the forecasts have changed in the last 72 hours you'd be wise to expect anything.

Not that rain will spoil the day, of course, it just would have been nice if people could have seen the surroundings as they were when we went up there on Monday (24 degrees, blue sky).  As you descend into Ruthin along the A494 you can get some breathtaking views when the weather is fine, and it will be a shame if people miss out on that (particularly for those visiting that neck of the woods for the first time).

So..
Let's all join hands,
And let's do a little chant to bring out the sun...
He's a little shy, but I think I can see him skulking behind that big, black cloud over there.
If we're all really nice to him perhaps we can get him back to his former self for Saturday

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Wednesday, September 13

3 Days and counting..

Three?
Three!!!
Blummin' three!?

After nineteen months of planning, the amount of time until this wedding arrives seems to be running out very quickly all of a sudden.

But it was quite a productive weekend wedding-wise, and I think pretty much everything's in place now so that all I need to do at this point is turn up. 

One small matter still outstanding is the speech.. 
Oh, no, it is written and everything, I'm just not looking forward to getting up and speaking in front of eighty eight assembled guests (thankfully, two have dropped out, I mean if I'd had to deliver the speech in front of ninety people I'd have been petrified). 

The speech itself, I think, is ok - I'm just not sure I'm going to be very good at delivering it.  To quote Harrison Ford's rant at George Lucas during the filming of Star Wars:  "You can type this shit, but you can't say it!"

Also, I just don't have one of those voices that lends itself well to speech delivery (really I think you need to sound like Simon Callow or Brian Blessed or at the very least be RSC trained).  I know this for sure as, in an attempt to commit the speech to memory, I have recorded it onto CD and now have it on in the car when I'm driving to and from work and, at best, I sound like a DJ on hospital radio.  Trés cheesy.  It will get a laugh from the audience, I'm sure.. ..but for all the wrong reasons.

I think I'll get the page boys to hold up cards with "Laughter" on them so the audience know when the humour has been delivered, it's the only way this speech is not going to die on it's arse methinks!

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Sunday, September 10

The Sky's falling in!

So today's the day I was supposed to be surfing the Interweb using Sky's "Sky Broadband" service. I had signed up to subscribe to the service back in August and was looking forward to today, when a Sky Installation Engineer was supposed to pop round and hook me up to 16Mb broadband, with no usage cap (subject to fair usage policy) and with free installation and activation. All for a tenner a month - a significant saving on what I was currently paying to NTL.

About a week after I signed up, those nice people at Sky even sent me a letter to tell me that my ADSL line would be switched on September 8th - even though my installation date wasn't until the 10th. Which all seemed frightfully efficient and a good indication of good things to come.

Fast forward to this morning.. I get a call about 9a.m. from the Sky Installation Engineer.
"Hello this is your Sky Installation Engineer. We aim to be with you between eleven a.m. and two p.m. today, is that okay?"
I told him that was indeed okay, and so sat down to wait.

And.. then.. eveything.. kinda.. went.. pear.. shaped.

The Installation Engineer knocked on my door at half one.
I openend the door.
"Hello mate," he said, "listen, do you know anything about computers?"
"Err.. yes.. a bit" said I.
"Oh, great, can you install this for me then, please. You see this has just been stuck on my van, I've no training in how to do these installations. Apparently though, they're dead easy to install."
Not so easy to install that he was willing to have a go, though.

Well it was a choice of installing it myself or awaiting another installation date.. and how hard could it be? I'd set up my Wireless router for the cable broadband, so this had to be the same, didn't it?

And to be fair it was a doddle to set-up (I only took the installation cos it was free) and it was a nice wireless ADSL modem. So I attached it to the phone line (with the filters in place) and used the ethernet output to connect it to my network card on my main PC. And switched on my PC.

No internet.

Nowt.

Fack all.

"Fuck"

On the phone then for ten minutes to Sky Broadband Technical support who, after a lot of faffing, told me that my lack of broadband through the ADSL modem was the fault of BT who'd yet to perform some weird hocus-pocus on the line.

However, during that conversation it also became clear that I hadn't been given an installation CD (featuring drivers, and software and the like) or a manual for my ADSL modem either - meaning that even if the internet was working I'd have had a completely unsecure WiFi hotspot in my house!

After much huffing and gnashing of teeth, I did manage to get a month's free broadband out of them (not that it's working yet, like) and I've got them to ship the software and manuals to me (which will be with me in five working days, allegedly). Just fortunate for me that I ain't cancelled my ntl yet.

So not much confidence in Sky Broadband so far, watch this space for updates!

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Friday, September 8

Look outside..

..see that sun?

..you see that brilliant blue sky?

..see that total and absolute absence of cloud?

Can I book that for next Saturday, please?

If it rains, I'm sure I'll never hear the end of it, so one order of "autumnal sunshine" to be delivered to North Wales on the 16th September, pretty please..

..with sugar on top..

It is glorious out there isn't it, though? 
You just knew that as soon as the kiddie-winkies were banished back to the classroom, that the clouds would clear, the rain would dry up and that long-standing absentee - the sun - would skulk back into the sky.  Even though the drive in was shit, it's hard to feel begrudged when the weather is this chirpy..

Also, it's hard to feel down when you know it's your last Friday in work until the 29th September.  That information more than lightens your mood.  Add to that the fact that I reckon that I'll take next Monday and Friday off and the following week off and then two days out of the week after that off as well, and you can see why I might have a bit more of a sunnier disposition today.

Cannot wait for a holiday too.. not really had one this year (despite what some people in the office may think, paternity leave is no vacation), so although there will be a lot of driving, a break will be fantastic!!! 

so there you go, a happy and chirpy blog entry.  Wow.  Don't worry, I'm fairly sure that something will piss me off in the next few hours and normal service will be resumed, but 'til then...

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Thursday, September 7

9 Days and counting..

..and finally the Honeymoon is booked (hurrah!)
Although booking it meant handing over a huge amount of money to Mickey Mouse and surprisingly he wouldn't take Mickey Mouse money, demanding Pounds Sterling instead, the dirty rat.  Should be a wicked week though, am really looking forward to it (yeah, it's for kids, but I've not exactly grown up yet, so I'll have a blast).

Also ambled down to the Suit Hire Company yesterday to pick up my suit (well, d'uh, I didn't go there to purchase fresh fruit and vegetables now did I?).  As part of this, you try it on (as in you wear the suit, you don't try and run out of there without paying the bill) to ensure that they haven't given you the wrong stuff - and I have to say it's quite a fetching ensemble.  Trouble is the fitting rooms upstairs were like a furnace, I swear it must have been about 28 degrees Celsius up there, and when you're wearing a shirt, tie, waistcoat and heavy woollen jacket you certainly feel the heat I tell thee!!

Now just the speech to write really..

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When was the last time you had this much fun in the palm of your hands..?

..And you wouldn't get arrested for doing it on the train



Vice City Stories on the PSP looks well cool..

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Tuesday, September 5

11 Days and Counting..

..and yesterday I got a phone call from the Suit Hire Company to tell me that my suit was ready to pick up.  Blimey.  That means that the suit I'll be wearing on my wedding day will be in the house this week, all hanging up on the back of the wardrobe door and everything.  It'll be, like, totally visible. 

Cripes. 

All seems very real all of a sudden..  Still it will be another thing to check off the list...

Also I've been dashing round trying to find and purchase gifts. 
You see, you have to give gifts to all sorts of people to thank them for playing their part in the whole day.  Additionally I get to be like Santa, and get to give out all these presents during my speech (a speech that sounds like it will feature more "thank you's" than your average Oscar acceptance rant!). 

I do think I've done quite well with what I've purchased so far, though, even if I say so myself..

But it's all go, I tell thee..

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Monday, September 4

12 days and counting..

..and you know what?  I've still not thought about my speech yet..

I've also still got to get round to booking the honeymoon

tick.. tock.. tick.. tock

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The hunter becomes the hunted

Woke up this morning to the sad news that Steve Irwin, a.k.a. the "Crocodile Hunter" had been killed by a Stingray (that's the aquatic creature and not the puppet programme from Thunderbird's creator Gerry Anderson).  I guess that there was always the risk that this sort of thing was going to happen, as he did have this tendency to hang out with quite dangerous animals most of the time. 

I'll never forget the skit of him on South Park, where he used to "creep up behind this crocodile and stick me finger up his ass".

Sad news..

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Sunday, September 3

Needed: One Paperweight!!

Why?
Because today I successfully downgraded my PSP and have not bricked it!!!

Regular readers will remember that yesterday I was debating whether to downgrade the PSP or not.

Well it seems while I was debating back and forth, someone released an Easy Downgrader, basically a windows wizard that talks you through turning back your PSP firmware from 2.71 to 1.5. This was the kind of software that I needed, so I downloaded it, plugged the PSP into the USB port and executed the program.

It was so intuitive, talking you through each step, and transferring all the files you needed for you. It was stilll nerve wrecking, sitting there with a PSP with a blank red screen for five minutes, but then it reset. Upon switching the PSP on again, I saw that I had version 1.5 of the firmware, and I could begin to install my lovely homebrew. Already

I have a fantastic C64 emulator (portable Uridium - joy!!), and a great Megadrive emulator (what were good Megadrive games, though? I never had one, and only really played Sonic).

Off to get a UMD loader (for playing PSP games off the memory stick) and a devhook (for emulating 2.71 firmware - no downside to this downgrade at all it would seem).

Joy!

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Saturday, September 2

Is it worth the risk..?

So as you may or may not know I have a Sony PSP, which I think is a fairly groovy gadget. Games, music, podcasts, WiFi, Internet, movies - all in the palm of your hand: that is pretty funky. And I've been very pleased with it, you essentially have a playstation 2 in the palm of your hand, and the design of the thing, including the brightness and clarity of the screen is second to none.

But yesterday, it was announced that the Firmware I am on (2.71) had been hacked, and a "downgrader" had been released which would allow me to downgrade the firmware on my console to 1.5, opening up the world of homebrew to me and my PSP.

What this means that I can run a whole load of "unsigned" applications on my PSP (unsigned meaning unauthorised by Sony) which range from emulators of consoles like the Sega Megadrive (have seen a PSP running this with Sonic and it was flawless) and 8-bit computers like the C64 (have seen Uridium running on a PSP - equally flawless), through to programs like GPS maps, and also programs that allow you to run games off the memory stick (should you want to ahem back up your game UMDs).

So I have now downloaded all of the files to make my 2.71 PSP a 1.5 PSP.

They're sat here right on my hard drive..

So why am I waiting?

Well there is a risk, albeit a small one if you follow all the instructions correctly, that you can brick your PSP. By brick, we basically mean render it as nothing more than a very expensive paper weight...

So.. decisions, decisions..

What should I do..

More later..

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Friday, September 1

Why is blood red?

We didn't know..
It was a random question to ask to be fair.

But we checked the 'net, and I learnt something today, so I have decided to share:

"Why Blood is red
The blood flowing through the arteries, capillaries, and veins of our bodies contains many different materials and cells, each with a different function. Plasma, the liquid portion of the blood, comprises more than half of the blood.

Plasma is light yellow in colour, and is thicker than water, because it contains many substances, in addition to the actual blood cells. These substances include proteins, antibodies that combat disease, fibrinogen, which helps blood clot, carbohydrates, fats, salts, and others.

Red blood cells, or corpuscles, encased in blood vessels, colour the blood. Since there are about 35 trillion of these tiny, round, flat discs circulating in one's body at any one time, their sheer number necessarily lends their red colour to the blood.

As the young red blood cell matures, and takes on an adult form in the marrow of the bone, it loses it's nucleus, and it increases its production of haemoglobin. Haemoglobin is the red pigment, or colour of blood, and contains iron, combined with protein.

 
When blood passes through the lungs, oxygen piggybacks on the haemoglobin of the red cells. From there, the red cells carry the oxygen through the arteries and the capillaries to all other cells of the body. Carbon dioxide from the body cells returns to the lungs through the veins in the same manner, by attaching to the haemoglobin.

Red blood cells have a life expectancy of approximately four months, before they are broken up, primarily in the spleen, and are replaced by new red blood cells. New cells are continuously generated to replace the old cells that have past their prime, and have been destroyed to make room for the younger generation.

 
Let's not forget that, in addition to red blood cells, we also have several types of white blood cells!"

So now we know!!

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The window of opportunity

So the transfer window closed until January at midnight last night, after a final flurry of signings and movements. One of the downsides of this is that there is no more gossip and rumours about potential signings knocking about, and now we all just have to actually look at the squads we have in the Premiership and see who's going to be beating who on a weekly basis..

Undoubtedly the surprise of the transfer season was, West Ham's "signing" of Tevez & Mascherano from Brazilian club Corinthians. Apparently some clubs were willing to pay up £30 million for Tevez alone, so Hammers supporters had better buy lots of jellied eels and mussels whenever they visit Upton Park this season, as I feel the club are gonna need a few quid.

But in reality, the club hasn't bought the players at all, they're "rights" are actually owned by an investment company, Media Sports Investments who own a mjority stake in Corinthians and tried to take over the 'appy 'ammers last season. There's also no doubt that West Ham are being used as a "shop window" to try and attract some serious cash for these players, whilst the players themselves adjust to European football (although West Ham strike me as a very dirty, grubby shop window, probably of a licenced "adult" store, as opposed to the nice shiny shop window they might have appeared in).

Whatever. It's just another club being bankrolled above it's status (a la Chelsea), which will eventually ruin the Premiership..

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