09/02/10 : Time gentlemen please
A procrastinator does not make a good blogger. I mean, I've left it a bit late to finish and publish my new year post ...
I had started writing about the Big Freeze™, and how I'd avoided the worst of its affects by cleverly taking a couple of weeks off work to do, well, not a lot really (although I did start a Zelda fest - currently half way through The Ocarina of Time).
I was going to write about Jonathon Ross leaving the BBC, which most news sources seemed to think was the most important thing happening in the world at the time. Actually, it's something I'm a bit disappointed about, partly because I quite like the guy but mostly because it feels as if the people who delight in continually complaining about him have "won" (these are the same people who will use anything as a stick to beat the BBC with).
The other thing I was going to write about is something we probably have to look forward to this year; smug toff David Cameron becoming Prime Minister. And before anyone complains that the term "toff" is somehow "classist", a toff is not just someone who's upper class, it's someone who's upper class and thinks that that's normal and who doesn't have a clue how ordinary people live. He's one of those politicians who plays on media spun fears and then promises a solution. Such as fixing "Broken Britain". Certain types of people (generally the same people mentioned in the last paragraph actually) lap all this up, forgetting who it was who decided that Britain was broken in the first place.
Anyway, that's enough rambling from me, I'm calling time on this blog. Some of the more interesting posts are below, or if you're really bored, have a look through the archives. If I ever do another blog it will be anonymous (and obviously not on this domain) but I'm not sure if I'll bother.
Thank you and goodnight.
27/08/09 : Chicken Korma
All the recipes I could find for this were completely different so I thought I'd start from scratch. It works - the spices seem right, the garlic and ginger work well together as do the coconut and yogurt, but I do think it's missing something. Or maybe I just like my curries with a bit more kick.
2 chicken breasts, cut into large chunks
a small onion, finely diced (or pureed)
2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
same amount of chopped ginger
2 red chillis, de-seeded and chopped small
a level tsp each of ground cumin, corriander and tumeric
200ml coconut milk
150ml natural yogurt (not low fat!)
heaped tbsp ground almonds
Stir fry the chicken over a fairly high heat until cooked through, then remove (put some rice on at this point, it'll take just under 15 minutes). Add a little more oil then fry the onion for a minute or so, then add the garlic, ginger and chilli, then the spices. Add the chicken, coconut milk and almonds. As soon as it starts bubbling, turn the heat right down and stir in the yogurt. Let it simmer away gently, stirring occasionally, while the rice finishes cooking.
Serves two. (Note - don't be put off by the fact that it looks like a Vesta Chicken Curry).
19/11/08 : You couldn't make it up!
I think I'm too late to enter the image challenge but I thought I'd have a go at it anyway, so here is my Daily Mail front cover.
I think I've covered everything! I couldn't find the right font for the headline, but I don't think it's too bad for my first attempt at this sort of thing (I'm not exactly a Photoshop expert).
16/06/2008 : Vagabond Kiss
I came across an old photo album whilst sorting out a cupboard recently. Behold: Vagabond Kiss in early 1996.
People still occasionally get to my sites by googling Vagabond Kiss, which always surprises me as we only had local success, split up shortly after the above photo was taken and weren't actually that good.
I'm in the middle, to the left is Johnny (one of three bass players we got through) and to the right is Andy (one of about ten drummers). Gav, now my brother-in-law is at the back and at the front is Jim, the lead singer.
Looking back I think we were actually better when we started out a couple of years earlier. We still had the big choruses but a more unique sound - big chunky guitar chords, tinkley piano, funky bass (from a guy called Luke, not pictured below for some reason I can't remember) and ultra-tight drumming from Jim, who sang lead vocals from behind the drum kit. I can understand why he wanted to get another drummer and be at the front, but none of the other drummers we had were a patch on him.
It was Jim that led us towards the more "80's hair rock" sound we had when photographed above. He was a weird guy really, the sort of person who would be your bestest mate until you disagreed with him over something, which he would take personally as if you have done whatever it was just to piss him off. Totally self-centred and misanthropic (I seem to attract such people) but a pretty good singer and songwriter, and the best rock drummer I've known.
UPDATE : Just googled the band myself and found out that some of the former members have "reformed" the band with a female lead singer . . . I wonder if they're doing the same kind of stuff as before or whether they just couldn't be bothered to think of a new name? Seems a bit odd to me.
16/01/08 : On nearly being bummed
I said in an earlier post that my "nearly being buggered in the woods" story deserved a post of its own - and here it is, with a bonus story - for there have been two occasions when I have come close to being an unwilling participant in hot man-on-man action.
The first time was at a cottage (public toilet building resembling a small abode in a rural area - see here for the sexual relevance) in Poole Park. Now, female readers may not be aware of this, but there are two unwritten laws of urinal etiquette.
Firstly, position. If there is no one else standing at the urinal (or "trough" as I used to call them) then one must position oneself at the far end. If another person enters and wishes to use the facilities, he must stand at the other end. If a third person enters, then unless the urinal is particularly wide, he must stand around awkwardly - pretending to adjust his clothing, combing his hair etc. - until a space at either end becomes vacant.
The second rule is simple. Under no circumstances do you look anywhere other than straight ahead.
Anyway, I had positioned myself correctly and was about to "go" when another person walked in and, after standing around for a while, walked over to the middle of the urinal. This immediately made me tense up - and I am sure that female readers will be aware that when one is tense, one cannot go. So, I'm standing there, tackle out, not actually doing what one is supposed to do whilst standing at a urinal with one's tackle out, with some guy dangerously close to me, presumably also tackle out but not actually doing what one is supposed to do in such circumstances.
Then, out the corner of my eye, I saw him edge closer. At this point, I realised that not only was I not going to be able to relieve myself but that it would probably be best to leave. I hurriedly zipped myself up (luckily not too hurriedly - otherwise the story could have ended rather more unpleasantly) and turned around to leave. The other guy was practically looming over me.
The second time was rather more sinister. It was a hot night in the middle of summer and I was at the Neptune bar by Boscombe pier. Me and my then pal Jim decided to leave to get some fags (incase any US readers get the wrong idea I should point out that "fags" is UK slang for cigarettes) from a local shop. We took the shortcut through Boscombe gardens, but instead of using the proper path, we cut through a trodden path through one of the wooded areas. As we were walking along I noticed that there was a man standing behind one of the trees, completely motionless. This seemed slightly odd, but we walked on - and then a little further down the path noticed another man stood behind a tree. At this point we began to think that something weird was going on - I found myself saying "misty up here, init?" just for something to say (it was actually misty). Then we noticed more of them - at least ten - all stood like statues behind trees. I remember hearing myself say "... misty up here init ..." out of nervousness. Our pace quickened and we soon caught up with a guy and a girl and asked them what was going on. The bloke simply said "They're gay".
It took a few seconds to work out what he meant. I remember thinking something along the lines of "So what? Why would that have anything to do with why they're all hiding in the woods as if waiting for . . . . . oh shit."
We ran like we had never ran before.
Still, we laughed about it (possibly with an element of hysteria) later.
UPDATE: googling the words "urinal etiquette" led me to the urinal test . . .
Categories: Memories and nostalgia
30/08/07 : Room 101
I'm not going to tag anyone with this - it's probably something that's been done before anyway - but if anyone wants to have a go, the rules are simple: select 5-10 things that really annoy you then write a bit about why you think they should be consigned to Room 101. Try to have a mixture of serious and not, and avoid obvious things like "murderers and rapists". Here is my selection.
1. Religion. Millions of people trying to restrict the freedoms of others, arguing about what their version of god wants us all to do, killing each other and stuff ... and the thing is, yeah, god doesn't actually exist . . . (this statement usually prompts the response "but you can't disprove there's a god", resulting in me having to point out that I don't have to disprove something that hasn't actually been proven in the first place).
2. Text/chatroom speak. I prefer reading properly constructed sentences rather than strange, almost newspeak-like abbreviations and phrases. The acronyms irritate me too, partly because they tend to be ridiculous exaggerations - I mean, when someone writes ROFLMAO I'm pretty sure they're not actually rolling around on the floor in hysterics. And LOL - laugh out loud - which seems to end every sentence - is just a replacement for the exclamation mark. Which is two characters shorter!
3. Straight across fringes.
Pretty girl, spoilt.
Actually, I think the reason that I don't like this is the fact that it chops the head in half, in a kind of "Look, this section is my hair, that section is my face" way. The first time I saw Sarah she had a straight across fringe and I had to check with someone else as to whether she was a babe or not (she was).
4. Possibly the worst noise in the world is electronic dance music - the type that consists of a fast four-beat bass drum with deeply irritating noises over the top - being played by a neighbour in the middle of the night with the bass turned right up.
When it comes to actual music though, it's country music that annoys me the most. Partly it's the actual sound, particularly the pedal steel guitar whining away in the background. Mostly it's the almost clever way in which depressing lyrics are added to sickly sweet tunes.
5. The Daily Mail. Why do I hate this paper so much? Well . . . it's the hysterical reporting from the floodgates. The spreading of moral panic. Exaggerating "society's ills" then putting the blame on any group of people they find "distasteful". Immigrants for example, who are all potential terrorists and should be sent back to where they came from. Or teenage single mothers, who are all scroungers that deliberately get pregnant because they know they will be provided for and who should have their benefits stopped because that will stop them all having sex in the first place apart from the ones who still do it but they can starve on the streets or perhaps we should build Victorian-style workhouses for them . . .
Basically, it's written for middle aged, middle class, compassionlessly conservative, progress hating right-wing bigots. People who like to start sentences with "bring back" - followed with things that liberal society should be glad to be rid of (hanging, public flogging, national service ...)
6. This might seem petty, but it annoys me when I read something and find the word "there" where it should be "their" or "they're". As the three words mean completely different things, it shows that the person who wrote it just bunged in a word that sounded right without really understanding what they were saying.
It also irritates me when things are repeated to emphasise a point that doesn't need emphasising. "One, single solitary bean" for example. Either there was one bean, or there were a different number of beans. You can't make it "more definitely" one bean by adding two other words that also mean one! I call this the "danger hazard" syndrome, after once seeing a notice being placed by a spillage on a shop floor stating "DANGER! HAZARD!" - so, that means "be careful, because there is something to be careful of"?
7. Aubergines. I once came across some in a pasta dish and, if I hadn't have known otherwise, I would have thought that someone had chopped up a slug and thrown it in the pan. Chunks of sludge with a weird skin around it. And a whole one is even worse when cooked, resembling a giant turd. Yuck!
8. Spiders. Mention to someone that you don't like spiders and they're bound to say either "but they can't hurt you" or "they're more scared of you than you are of them". Well, duh, obviously ... but then phobias aren't rational things. When I was a kid one crawled over my face when I was half asleep in bed, which I suppose it where the fear comes from (although it's more of an extreme revulsion to the hideous creatures than fear).
A flat-mate of mine once kept a tarantula, and that was ok until one day we walked into the front room to find the lid of the spider's tank on the floor next to a sheepish looking cat. This induced a moment of quite extreme panic. We found the thing climbing up the wall, which at least made it easy to capture.
04/11/06 : Beeb stuff
I picked up HTML (and CSS) over the years, and consider myself quite proficient now. I know what I need to know in PHP. But BASIC - specifically BBC BASIC - is the only actual programming language that I ever learnt (and mastered).
I actually still had a BBC Micro until a few years ago, before it finally gave up the ghost and went to Silicon Heaven. I then discovered emulators (like BeebEm) and have recently found BBC Basic for Windows - allowing me to write stuff in BASIC that can be compiled and run on any Windows PC. This means that I can once again delight my family by writing those text-adventures I used to write years ago.
(Actually, delight isn't quite the right word. I think they think I'm a bit sad for bothering. But I shall make them play my games anyway! Bwa ha ha ha ha!)
Anyway, if you're bored, you can download a re-written version of a game I wrote years ago: Darkhall Manor (94.1k, should run from any Windows machine, work safe).
Categories: Blogging, webstuff, programming, Computer games
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