Land

I went to the cinema. Again. Not really a surprise I guess but given the recent Covid-times I think that maybe sitting in a room with other people isn’t a good idea. But then, I think that the cinema needs money to survive and so far there haven’t been more than 20 people in the films I’ve seen and the distancing is quite good. It’s nice to be back [I’m not counting this film].

I went to see Land and it was in screen 8 of the Cineworld cinema in Rochester. I do like screen 8, it was meant to be the “posh” one many years ago but now it’s just slightly more comfortable than all the others with its better chairs and fewer seats. I’m reasonably sure I’ve seen films in there just because it was in screen 8 and not for any other reason.

As I drove along the riverside towards the cinema I noted the state of the tide and it was low. I could see all of the mudbanks and only the central channel was buoyancy-providable. The weather was actually quite nice given the previous day where it rained the whole day and I was silly enough to go for a walk to see the Medway Megaliths, my shoes were soaked but the sun dried them nicely. After I’ve seen a film I rate it on IMDB and there’s a guide to the rating system within this communication. Normally I would then tweet the result from my phone but I removed Twitter a long time ago so the tweets have to wait for the next opportunity when I’m on my home PC.

So, I had to reread my IMDB communication to remind myself of the scoring system. Then I rated this as a 6. It was a perfectly fine film but not one I’d watch again. I booked whatever film I thought looked most interesting. I had slight pangs of concern when I entered the theatre as all the people in there were women and I ended up being the only man in the room. All the trailers were for what I would call “emotional” films – as stereotypical it is I like space films and then thrillers and action films I guess although most action films are stupid. These are not my usual style of film to watch but I was here now and so it was time to soak up what was on offer.

For me the star of the film was the Wyoming countryside. It looks just absolutely gorgeous. It made me think of doing the same and abandoning all of the trappings of modern life and to head off and lead what would feel like a simpler life. When I say get rid of modern life this woman still have tinned food, knives and a rifle. I wonder if everyone feels that they would like to survive by their “wits” rather than our current world system?

The film was broadly speaking enjoyable and told a nice story, one of emotional recovery and trying to learn to live again after tragedy. I know it was for the purposes of the film for the main character to survive after the midpoint of the film but I’m not sure she would. You end up wondering “what are the odds” but it is dealt with very well although all films suffer survivor bias.

The only part of this film that irritated me slightly was that it made shooting things look really simple and easy. I’m not talking about the pulling of the trigger or the moral problems of killing life but I am talking about how hard it is to hit a target with a rifle. Films make this look much simpler and easier than it really is. The funny thing is I actually know what I’m talking about here – I’m a weapons instructor, coach and a range officer – hilarious I know but I do have those qualifications and use them regularly. Me, having official qualifications in something extreme, I find it a curiosity.

I Felt Productive

I recently had a long session on Minecraft, I was stuck in the house and couldn’t get out as I was waiting for someone to come and fix my boiler. I didn’t really feel like getting into a TV show so I spent some time [too long really] putting an idea I had a while back into place. Here’s an overview of part of the latest world:

Latest World Overview
Latest World Overview

The mess top right next to the bay is the MAIN Base. I’m going to see if I can get some screen shots of it, or maybe give a walk around viewing video, I’ll see what I can manage. The big grey blob in the middle of the map is a gravel topped mountain and I’ve not been there to get the gravel yet but it will be useful at some point I hope. In the bottom left of the map you can see the nearest village to the base. I wanted to create a way of getting to and from the village without having to walk over land. I could have created a minecart track but in this world I chose to dig a canal.

Sea Level Details
Sea Level Details

This cross-sectional map shows everything at level 62 – sea level [currently]. If you look closely at the top you can see a thin blue line going horizontally. That is the canal I dug and added water to. You enter the canal from top right and move directly westwards and exit in the Great Lake. From there you follow the passages and mini-canal southwards to get to the village. There could be an issue that I can’t remember whether it was this village or not that had actual live villagers in it. I didn’t bother to check before I started this infrastructure project so it could have been for nothing!

Length Of Navigation Route
Length Of Navigation Route

My map making software also has a measuring tool. You can see that the total canal length is about 0.85km. So that’s 850 blocks long. I’ll probably create a video soon of the base and where the canal goes but until then, I leave you in peace.

NFTR

It’s hard to keep this site up to date with interesting things when there are very few interesting things that are happening. Normally these communications would be full of film reviews and photographs of curious things I see whenever I go somewhere new. But I haven’t been somewhere new in a long time. The cinemas are still closed and possibly won’t open again. Who knows what’s going to happen over the next year or so as the world learns to manage with a pandemic which will always be circulating. I hope that the variations will die down as the cases are reduced, then eventually humanity will have a chance to control the spread of the virus. I am happy that I might never again have to be in the situation where people think I’m weird for not wanting to shake hands with others.

Now, I don’t mean to imply that things aren’t busy. Work is super crazy at the moment while at the same time we are trying to improve the cadet experience within guidelines. Everyone is struggling with balancing responsibilities because of the short sightedness of the government in coming up with a plan for how education should work in these covid times. I mean, they’ve only had a year to get things sorted. You would have thought someone would be able to make decisions and get systems in place but it turns out that when you are just a selfish power crazy person you don’t care about those important things. I’m not sure why people seem surprised to know that Johnson might have lied or said terrible shit. He’s been doing that all his life. This country voted him in and this country deserves what it gets. I just feel really bad for all those who want a caring government.

I’ve been trying to play more computer games or at least try some new ones. I’ve not been getting very far with that though. I’m still playing Gran Turismo a lot and given that I’ve been playing it since 1997 I don’t think that is going to change much. I started playing GT on a PlayStation when I lived in Gillingham and the house own borrowed a PS from his brother and GT came with it. We found we would play and race each other and congratulate when the other managed a lovely drift. The I bought my own PS, which my mother thought was a waste of time, and I played GT and F1 ’97 quite a bit along with a few other games. When the PS2 came out I bought one. Upgraded GT and played on that system. Eventually I bought a network card for the PS2 and played, very briefly, online. I was joining in with some Navy Seal game online where all the players knew the maps and my time alive was very small. I didn’t really enjoy the experience. When the PS3 was released I upgraded and got GT. Somewhere around this time I also started to get steering wheels – not sure if it was PS2 or 3. Clearly, once GT is released on the PS5 I will be upgrading but I’m not going to bother trying to get a PS5 until that point. I’m very happy with my PS4.

I’ve been playing a bit of The Last Campfire by Hello Games. It’s a delightful little puzzle game with some problems that have made me walk away in embarrassment that I didn’t figure them out quickly. I’m hoping to finish the game soon although I have no idea how long it is supposed to take. It’s a lovely little story and looks wonderful.

In other news I think I would like it to be a little warmer than it is currently. I’m fed up feeling cold a lot of the time. Some of this is to do with my office at work having zero heating outlets and also my home heating is shitty because I’ve been waiting FOUR SHITTY MONTHS for British Gas to get their act together and come and fix it. I’ve been mostly annoyed by this while equally feeling as though I’ve been unable to do anything about it. At least I have been able to use the heating, it’s just that the boiler requires some TLC every now and then. I know that British Gas are going to tell me that they were hit by the third wave of Covid and that also their technicians went on strike. This is what happens in business when you under value your staff and put your motivation to shareholder profits before other things.

I am beginning to think that I have too many screens in one room in my house. I know that seems like it shouldn’t be possible but currently the dining room – so called because it has a table – there are four screens. Two 27″ computer monitors attached to the home PC. A 27″ monitor when I have to do work at the table and a 45″ screen on the wall which gets used as a TV when I’m on the rowing machine. Considering this room is really quite small I think it might be overkill, but they all have their uses and I’m not that inclined to remove one. I’ll just have to avoid people seeing the room unless they think I’m too much of a gamer. Which, I’d like to point out, I don’t think I am.

Finally Somewhere Else

I actually drove out of the county of Kent for the first time since last August recently. I didn’t go far, only across the Thames to Essex but it felt like a whole new place. I think I’ve been separated from Essex for long enough now that I don’t really have any urges of “home” when I go there. I do look around the village and think it’s very pretty but all around it’s changed so much with building and “improvements” that it’s not the Essex of my childhood anymore and I don’t feel that romanticism. I did go for a walk with the family and we went to some lovely local reservoir lake things. It was pretty and the sun was shining.

My Homeland
My Homeland

As much as I’ve labelled that picture as my homeland curiously I didn’t even know these lakes existed for all the time I lived in the village. I had never explored them as a child. Doesn’t really matter. It just adds to the alienness of wandering around somewhere so familiar and yet so different.

As a slight contrast I did find this work of art on a walk around the lake area near me in Kent. I have to say it is stunning. I’m not entirely sure about any of it though. I’m a republican and couldn’t care less about what happens with the royal family. It does appear that this picture has likened Kate to the virgin mother of Jesus and quite literally sanctified her in image. It’s such a strange sight and one of conflicting impressions.

I'm Just Not Really Sure What
I’m Just Not Really Sure What

Does this image mean it was paid for by arch royalists? If so then I’m not sure why the person in the image isn’t part of that bloodline – I guess the child is [?] assuming it’s actually one of Kate and William’s children. I honestly don’t know. I also feel that the people who did this are particularly on the right of politics as that is what I mostly associate that particular colouring of cloth in the background. This image has me conflicted in many many ways.

Heading just a few miles from the graffiti we see other iconography in the local friars. Now, it turns out that the monastery near where I live isn’t a monastery it’s actually a friary. It also turns out there’s a difference. Let’s make this clear here. Monks are selfish twats who give their lives over to serving and praying to god. Friars are less selfish twats who give their lives over to serving god while at the same time being allowed out to do things in the community. So, friars are the better of the two wastes of time. I guess anything which has use to the community is better than a thing which does not.

Iconic Stuff
Iconic Stuff

This image has another mother and child in a system which allowed rape, slavery and murder of the right people. Is Mary crying in this image? Perhaps she’s upset at the lack of consent for her pregnancy – which makes god a rapist. If you look at the bottom images on the front of the alter it looks like there is a snake climbing a crucifix which I suppose I understand and then there is also a badly drawn T-Rex with a halo! I know it’s a sheep but it’s much more fun to think of it as a terrible lizard. Damn, I wish I had looked more closely at this when I was there. Perhaps I’ll pop back for another look soon.

O-AZ

Yesterday I had the first part of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine against the SARS-Cov-2 virus. I was expecting to feel rough today but so far I do not. It’s been around twenty four hours and all good at the moment, perhaps later today will be rough as fuck. I’ve read and heard on podcasts about people’s reaction to the vaccine and so I’m curious to see how I react. The most important thing is to get vaccinated and help reduce my reaction to getting Covid.

There are some things we don’t yet know about any of the vaccines. What we do know is that they don’t stop you getting Covid-19 but they do minimise your reaction to it. It’s highly likely you won’t be hospitalised if you get the real virus. We don’t know if vaccinated and infected people are still contagious and we don’t know how long the vaccine lasts and we don’t know if it helps you recover from all the Covid variants. But we do know it stops you being hospitalised if you catch Covid. So, while we don’t have the data yet on various aspects of the vaccine we do know it lowers your chances of dying from the virus. Seems a good idea to get vaccinated because your chances of dying of something else while waiting to be vaccinated are higher than the chances of you dying from the adverse reactions to the vaccine.

In the mean time here’s a video taken from inside the Prius as I did a lap of the Brands Hatch GP circuit. It’s a four minute lap time, roughly, which is amusing as it should be closer to one minute forty had we been allowed to race. However, that’s not the point. I’m happy to leave my racing to playing Gran Turismo.

Surprising Compression

Recently I went somewhere for a thing! Given the last year of lockdown and nothing really happening this was a super treat. Motorsport Vision emailed earlier in the year offering the chance to drive the GP circuit at Brands Hatch and as I considered the price to be suitable I booked a place. There were rules to follow once on the circuit but it was nice to experience the route in the sun and in my Prius. There were quite a few “showy” cars in the queue for the sightseeing but I didn’t care. I enjoyed it even though our speed never really exceeded 50 mph.

Driving The GP Circuit
Driving The GP Circuit

I will say that even at the pedestrian pace we were going the compression going down Paddock Hill was surprising, it also started earlier than I had expected but now that I’ve had time to reflect it makes sense that you feel negative g as you go over the top and then the onset of positive g is fast as you approach the inflexion.

This was great fun and something I’d love to do again. I should probably see what lap time I could get by driving on Gran Turismo. Unfortunately the current GT version doesn’t have a Prius so I’ll try and find something else with similar power and torque.

Not Just Myself

I’ve been removing social media apps from my phone as I’ve found that their form of distraction from the real world wasn’t enough of a distraction and a waste of my time. I still check-in now and then just to see what is happening but I try to do that on the PC and not waste my other time staring at my phone. This is really about me trying to not get too upset at all the shit that is going on in the world. I can only just about cope with my own life at the moment and so reading about all the crap that is going on wasn’t helping. I’ve had to change my approach and be a little more selfish about the things whirling around my head.

So, I removed Twitter and Reddit from my phone. I still subscribe to Private Eye but I find I don’t read much of it as it’s all about the corruption and bullshit in the world of politics and as much as PE does really important work I can’t have all that other stuff going around in my head. So, I am trying to read more books on my kindle which I love. I’m using the Kindle app on my phone to try and read some technically dense writing about the NASA F-16XL supersonic laminar flow boundary layer investigations. I’m trying to improve my own levels of knowledge and understanding while avoiding the shit-heap of politics.

I still care of course and so balancing it all is hard. I think it’s why I like Minecraft so much. It’s a world where I have control over most things except for bloody creepers and what my kids do in the world. I’m building a beach house at the moment and I’m looking forward to the results. So, instead of me having to think about all the issues going on in the world I do this by proxy. I give money [not that much but enough] to organisations I think are doing the right thing. I put my energies into work and getting money to live and then I give some of my time and money [mostly money] to people whose values agree with mine. So, here’s who I give money to:

British Humanist Society – because if I had to describe myself it would be as a humanist or as a pastor of the Church Of The Flying Spaghetti Monster.

National Secular Society – because I don’t believe any religion has the right to be a part or have influence over laws and government.

Green Party – I used to be a part of the Liberal Democratic Party who I joined just after the Brexit vote. But since then they elected a bigot as their leader and I no longer found my values aligning with theirs. The Green Party do seem to have all the right policies. I am concerned that many people my age still think of the Green Party as a bunch of unrealistic hippies but the party values align with mine more than any other party.

Puzzle In A Thunderstorm Productions – These guys take the piss out of religion and it is well deserved. I like their shows and so I donate money to them. Over the years they have been a source of comfort through some tough times and I align well with their values.

Extinction Rebellion – I honestly think these people are doing the right thing. The climate is going to be a disaster soon and so these people get my money because I’m not in a position to do much myself.

British Problems on Reddit has been one of my favourites over the last couple of years. Like minded people pointing out the problems about living in Britain and while it’s very much a list of first world problems it does make me smile. Recently I noticed a post [?] complaining about usage of the terms “myself” and “yourself”. The post seemed to think it was just estate agents who use the term incorrectly and I have pointed out that the educated professionals I work with [in a grammar school] mostly seem to use this incorrect construction. Things like:

“if you aren’t sure come and see Dave or myself
“please email myself if you want more information”

It’s one of those little things that really annoys me. It sounds pretentious and is just plain wrong.

“if you aren’t sure come and see Dave or ME
“please email ME if you want more information”

These are the grammatically correct ways of saying these sentences. Please help me change the world so that everyone speaks properly. Yes, I know the title of this communication is wrong, it’s called humour.

Don’t Think It’ll Ever Be Right

I’ve been trying to withdraw myself from the news more and more and yet I still feel drawn to it and am teetering on the edge of utter rage. My latest conclusion is that while we expect our governments to look after us and care for us all they really care about is doing just enough to keep everything ticking along. Maintaining the status quo is important and when we get annoyed by things they even feel the need to make protest virtually illegal.

How do you let those in charge know your feelings? You have to be allowed to protest. If things are important enough then the people should be able to let you know. The people should be allowed to protest and if you don’t want to listen then it is time you stopped governing. I feel that protest is important. It means that we are finally getting off our arses and going to do something about it. But then I remember that over one million people marched against the Iraq war and yet still a Labour Prime Minister entered that war.

I feel despair and as such I don’t think I can write about all my thoughts here. Not that this is really the forum for this. I think I need to see my friends and talk about my ideas. I have some close friends who help me back from the thoughts of extreme to a more middling place where I can cope.

In the mean time I have played Gran Turismo for the first time in a few weeks and actually qualified pole. I then went on to win the race but I did lose the lead on lap two for a short while which was worrying. It was a good fun race.

A Win!
A Win!

Mid March Already

This whole lockdown thing has really messed up my internal calendar. There are times when I think it’s coming up to autumn and other times when it could be May? I have to keep looking at an electronic device to make sure I know what month it is. But then again, a bit like when we change the clocks, I’m never really sure I trust the programming on any devices until I can check with a third party official source [normally the radio].

I’ve had a mostly administration day. I’ve looked at updating computers and making sure things work properly along with setting up various cloud storage devices. It’s one of those jobs that needs doing every now and then. It’s almost fun. Also, for some reason a few of my albums within iTunes were labelled as compilations and that put them somewhere strange in the music app on my phone so I’ve been doing some admin making sure they are all correctly organised and labelled.

Friday night I didn’t fall asleep at 2000 so that was nice, being able to watch a television show all the way through!

Well, I’m sure other important stuff happened this week but I have no recollection.

That Was A Week, That Was

Absolutely bloody shattered. That’s how I ended this week. Last night, Friday, I ate food and then tried to watch a film. Fell asleep at 2000 on the sofa and then went to bed at 2230 when I woke up. I’ve not even really had the hardest of jobs in the organisation. There are others who are running the testing centre and track and trace and all that and all I have to do is our core business of teaching. Knackering. But also nice to be able to see faces again. Kinda.

I bought a new cafetiere and it came with a coffee grinder so I’ve been grinding coffee beans and testing that type of coffee out. It’s fun, I guess, but not sure if it’s worth it. Especially as I bastardise my coffee with sugar and milk. I then decided to get a filter coffee machine instead of a new kettle. My kettle looks worn out but a bit of descaling has meant it still works fine so I can live with it for a while longer. The coffee machine has a timer and so I can set everything ready in the evening and come down to fresh coffee when I wake up every work day. I will say that having everything done when I walk through the kitchen is a sheer delight.

My home boiler, hot water and heating, has issues and I can’t let the heating work automatically. This has been like this for two months now. I pay money for a boiler fixing service and my initial appointment was to be about four weeks after I initially called them, and while that seemed a long time to me I had to remind myself this is Covid and my system still works to an extent. Then they cancelled that appointment because – reasons and pushed it back to mid March. Now the service company have cancelled that and pushed it to beginning of April. I will have been waiting approximately four months for something to be fixed with a house that is mostly cold. This isn’t the sort of service I pay for. Screw them.

I got a new mobile phone a while back and while it’s the same brand as I normally get it still feels new. Which is nice. Normally I get a new phone, you transfer all your data and you look at it and go “Oh, works the same then” which is exactly what you expect when devices run the same OS. This one feels and looks different somehow and that’s even after one month of owning it! Oh, I also upgraded my sim only contract and now I have 160GB of data a month. I use around 5GB. So, I’m going to have to see if I can max this out. Time to start downloading films and streaming lots of video. There was only one time in my past when I think I went over my data allowance and that was at Linton when I was trying to stream an F1 race.

I also had a bad headache this week and woke at 0200 in pain and not able to get back to sleep. I had to get up and take pills in the night, which I can’t remember ever having to do in the past. Fortunately the pain had gone by the morning and I was able to head in to work. But trying to sleep and having thoughts running through about how to organise work and cadets when you aren’t going to be there is not nice. I think I need to change one of my life rules. If I think I might take some tablets then I should take them there and then. Don’t wait to see if it gets better. Just get those drugs into my system. I have a similar successful rule about work. If I think I’m not sure I can make it to work because I feel ill then that is when you don’t go in to work. That particular rule doesn’t always work because there are other social pressures when working in my sector.

Minecraft Bedrock ran an update which also included a server update so it was a nice distraction to put the updated server on my PC. It’s not a hard job but there’s a list of things that need to be done correctly to make sure everything works properly. Which it does and so I got a nice sense of satisfaction from that. I did have a small panic when the ray tracing didn’t seem to work on the PC but it did after a short wait and so thankfully I don’t have to investigate why. I quite enjoy fixing PC things but sometimes the time involved can be quite high. Things are generally fixed either within fifteen minutes or three hours.

I hate selling stuff on eBay. I recently went through a cupboard and found some old tech items and thought I would either throw them away or sell them. So, I decided to sell them on eBay. I wasn’t sure how much I’d get but it seemed more responsible than just chucking them out. Once tech items sell I’m always worried they decided to stop working in transit and arrive broken. I would never knowingly sell something that doesn’t work [unless I labelled that clearly]. So, once things are posted I have a week of background stress until I get my positive feedback. One item I sold I accidentally labelled it as the wrong model and so that is coming back to me which is perfectly fair because that’s my mistake. I’m happy to correct that. The other item the buyer wanted to return because “it didn’t work”. Now, he had already messaged me asking for the software download and how to get the item working. This indicated to me that he didn’t understand the tech side of things. Then he wanted to return it saying it didn’t work. I messaged him asking if he had followed a detailed list of steps to get it working on his system and I haven’t heard back at all. I suspect he was hoping it was plug and play and I also suspect he was connecting it directly to his PC and not to his router. There are many things it could be and I’m not his personal tech support. So his request to return was denied.

Time to get out for a run and burn off the calories of my take-out last night.