Monday, January 27, 2014

R.I.P. sweet L.B.

I've been concerned for a few weeks that I hadn't heard or read anything from the only person who regularly reads and posts comments on my blog. I can be so blinkered at times. I just thought that L.B. was taking an unannounced break at the end of the year. Little did I suspect there was anything wrong, until the break I imagined reached a point where my curiosity got the better of me and I decided to try and do a bit of reading round other blogs I knew she read. A person like L.B. wouldn't just stop without saying anything.
This evening I've discovered the shattering truth that my blogging friend passed away on Boxing Day 2013. I'm so sorry for her family, her beloved children and her partner D.R. I'm still in shock about it.
L.B. was a very genuine person who always had a positive thing to say, I enjoyed reading her Choose and Defend features every week and commenting on them. She was very consistent in her blogging and in her commenting. I was aware that she had followers and that she read other blogs but I felt she still gave some of her time gladly in commenting on my silly blog posts about the stupidest things. I will miss her kindness and sense of humour. She was effectively the patron of my blog. She was the reason I blogged about some of the things I chose, I was genuinely interested in her opinion on them. Even up until today I was looking forward to hearing her comments on my posts this month.
I'm glad that other bloggers like AlienCG and JamesOStafford have posted their own tributes to her. I can't quite believe the news. I have to imagine her having a great time in heaven and continuing to follow the bloggers who she honoured with her thoughtful comments. Love and peace, sweet L.B.

January blues

Another Monday morning rolls around. The week begins again. Another week packed with the hours of work, play and sleep. Not to mention the million other things we have to do to keep things going, like food shopping, cleaning, washing, eating, parenting and so on. It is a hamster wheel, isn't it? Artists get time to explore new things and develop a fresh perspective. That doesn't happen in most other jobs does it? Maybe I've just been doing the same thing for too long? Maybe I should make a change?
There is some comfort in routine. Having something stable isn't to be sniffed at. I guess the way I'm feeling is down to middle age. I can see the weeks stretching out before me with monotony until I die. I must shake this feeling off!

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Red Riding Hood

I watched this film recently through my trial of Netflix. It's a fantasy horror story about a village terrorised by a werewolf. I'm not sure when or where it was supposed to be set, the costumes look vaguely medieval but I doubt historical accuracy is the point. It's a bit like the film Hansel and Gretel Witch Hunters, in that it tries to give a modern twist to the old fairy tale of Red Riding Hood. I don't mind the idea of taking an old fairy tale and re-invigorating it for the modern age. Unlike the all out action in Hansel and Gretel Witch Hunters there was more in this film for teenage girls and a bit less of the horror content. Neither film contains real horror content in my opinion. Gary Oldman gives his usual performance, this time as a kind of a priest turned slightly mental by his knowledge of the occult werewolf. To give an idea of his madness, his fingernails had been replaced with pointed silver ones, which can't have been fun. The village thought bringing him in to kill the werewolf terrorising them for years would be a good thing but as it turns out, he brings with him knowledge that by day the werewolf walks among them and this leads to all sorts of suspicions and mistrust. So the premise isn't a bad one and the execution of the film is not unpleasant to watch. It just sort of washed over me though, without me feeling very engaged in the characters. The performances were okay, bordering on mediocre. I didn't feel the central character of Valerie, played by Amanda Seyfried, had enough going for her for me to feel strongly about her. I was left not caring whether she was killed by the werewolf or not, it might have been a good twist if evil had prevailed. In summary, it's something I would think would appeal to teenager girls for the fantasy and romance elements but not really to anyone else. In that sense, I'm probably not the intended audience. I was interested in seeing it because of an interest in fantasy horror but this film didn't have much of either.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Vulcan 607

I finished reading the book Vulcan 607 this week. It's the story of the RAF's first sortie that opened the Falklands War. The V bombers were developed in the 1950s as Britain's nuclear deterrent fleet of aircraft. There was the Vickers Valiant, the Avro Vulcan and the Handley Page Victor. The book tells the true story of a daring plot to bomb Stanley airfield to prevent it from being used by the Argentinian fast jets. If the airfield was fully operational, the fast jets would be a real threat to ships of the fleet task force and marines on the ground. Strategically then, it was an important target.
The imposing delta wing shape of the Vulcan bomber looks amazing but the range of the Falklands from the nearest neutral base on Ascension Island required several air to air refuelling brackets. The book is largely about the struggle to firstly refit the aircraft to be able to refuel in the air, of training of the pilots in air to air refuelling and low level flying. The bombs for blasting into a runway are very different to nuclear bombs and different bombing tactics are required. The weight of conventional bombs is different as well. The electronic warfare equipment of the 1950s and 1960s was also different to the modern electronics in the 1980s. To jam the Argentine radar, the Vulcan had to be equipped with something called a DASH 10 jamming pod.
The book was a good read and made a nice change from novels. I subsequently found a Youtube video of the story too, you can watch it below.


Didn't have much time to blog this week but trying to catch up now. Last week I watched the movie Suckerpunch. It's an interesting film, very very entertaining visually. It's also very surreal and doesn't have a lot of plot or dialogue holding it together. The music is great and the actresses are all totally beautiful and glamorous. The story centres around a young lady who escapes abusive men by fantasizing she is a kind of videogame character who can defeat multiple enemies by slashing her Samurai sword about, jumping ridiculous heights and shooting a gun off. She is accompanied in these fantasies by the other young ladies who in reality are other patients in an asylum.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Another enjoyable walk

This morning I had to work hard again to get my family out for a walk but once we were out everybody enjoyed it. I used the app Map My Walk to record the walk route and the time and distance we walked. The details of what it captured can be seen below. Seemed to work pretty well. I also took a photo while we were out using an app called Hipstamatic for iPhone. It is a photo app I quite like because it comes with several different film types and lenses. Here is the result:

Lens: Jane
Film: Blanko
Flash: Off


Last Friday I signed up to Netflix, to give it a try. We can access Netflix on our Blu ray players, tablet and computers but not our televisions. So we can watch it without any major problems. It's a good service, I like the more modern take on the films on the films available, although a lot more seems to be available on Love Film. I think I might keep the two services going after the Netflix trial expires, I am able to cancel at any time. My wife is watching Breaking Bad and is enjoying it. I watched the pilot episode of Life Unexpected. I'll see how it goes.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

At least we did this

I had rather a good introduction to the weekend. On Friday night I beat my final videogame I got for Christmas, so I felt good about that. I also signed up to the movie streaming service Netflix for a free month, so that I can compare it to LoveFilm. The movies I can access do seem to be a little better known but we shall see how it pans out over the next couple of weeks before I make any decisions to make any changes.
On Saturday, I was determined to get my family out for a walk. By Jove, it was hard work. But this month we're detoxing and trying to eat healthily so I wanted to get out and about as well. It got to 3pm and we nearly didn't make it but eventually we managed to get out. I took them out to the woods near to us and yet again my children enjoyed themselves even though they complained beforehand. Here's a photo of a beautiful sun setting through the trees. I'm glad I went out just for this shot alone, hope you like it.

Monday, January 06, 2014

Cat nap

Our cats spend a good amount of time asleep. They are awake and moving for quite a bit of the day but they also seem able to nap whenever the mood takes them. They look so comfortable when they're dozing. I enjoy watching them curl up and go to sleep. They seem able to instantly wake again. I admire that ability. Sometimes I can catch them having a stretch and a yawn. I am glad we have them. I can't imagine not having them now. I like how they snuggle into a soft blanket, sometimes they snuggle together which is cute but more often they sleep on a window sill or beneath a radiator or on the floor where the warmth from the heating pipes can be felt. It would be nice to be reincarnated as a cat just as long as the family were loving.
(One thing I don't much like is when they leave muddy paw prints on the floor. Not much I can do about that one I suppose.)


Sunday, January 05, 2014


The weather seems to be a big news story here this year so far. There are plenty of storm warnings in place and coastal areas in the West and South seem to be taking the brunt. Flooding is a problem for a lot of homes and businesses in these areas. The weather here at home has been mainly wet but there are occasional sunny spells. Here is a photo taken this morning, I like looking at clouds when they are interesting.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Welcome to 2014

I got up late with a headache and an achy back. The weather has been quite dark and wet and miserable in general. Had a nice lunch though of salad and then cheered up watching What's Up Doc (starring Ryan O'Neal and Barbara Streisand, who looks incredibly beautiful in the film). The weather though has been outrageously miserable. Nothing memorable about it other than it being completely forgettable! The 1st Jan is always a bit of a strange day for me though, probably because it's a day spent at home milling about - a bit like Christmas Day without the presents and the excitement. However you have spent your first day of the year, I hope it's been pleasant for you.

Here's a photo I took of the garden from inside the house, excuse the watering can blown onto the grass!