Monday, 29 June 2015

Sigh

Where did the time go?  I just feel like life has been a bit too busy lately!

But I am still here!

One thing has been that I have just felt a bit washed out recently, but I have found the reason for this.  My bike has acquired a wobbly back wheel recently, and I finally got it fixed yesterday.  I had not realised how much extra energy I was using just to move the bike along the road!  This morning I flew along with ease...

We now have a pair of nesting doves loving on our house.  For 3 months they have been trying to nest in the most ridiculous place...


Every time the hen moved, everything just fell down.  So, having the chance to borrow a ladder,  Mrs RC quickly put together something that might attract their attention.

They are not using it quite how we expected them to use it, but it is a success anyway.  Here they are in the process of moving they hay from the intended next area onto the roof, where they have decided to nest.


I have still found time to play more Star Wars.  On Saturday I went to a local tournament, at the last moment deciding to use this squad, which everyone thought was a joke, having what are generally thought of as the least dangerous ships in the entire game.


After my first easy victory everyone started to change their minds about how nasty the old Y-Wing was.  In my second game I beat a guy who totally trashed me last time - it was hilarious to see his star pilot drifting along, smashing into asteroids after being shot up by my guys.  I ended up winning all 3 of my games, coming 2nd overall (out of 10 players).  It was a great day for the underdog!  :-)

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Catching up!

Hi!


What can I say?  Been pretty busy around here, getting involved in stuff at work that I normally stay clear of.  But it is all positive.  There is a bit of reorganisation going on here, and it is looking like I am going to come out of it smelling of roses, as they say.  Subtle changes to my job, losing some of the dull stuff, doing more of the interesting stuff.  Looking good!


Number One Son comes home on Sunday.  He is usually home earlier than this, but he had some stuff to do relating to his Masters Degree that he is taking next year, and one of his female Uni friends is getting married, so he is going on her Hen Night.  I was a bit concerned about this at first, imagining him being exposed to male strippers and the like, but no.  This friends is "a nice girl", and her party is taking place at a trampoline centre.  The worst we are imagining is him falling off and breaking something  :-)


Mrs RC has been moving things around in the garden recently.  We are letting the rabbits and hedgehog run together in a bigger enclosure to see how it works out.  Seems to be good so far, with the rabbits running around but seeming to get on OK.  Chuffington is still eating and pooping, so he must be coming out of his house at some point in the night.  He used to "talk" to the rabbits through the wire before, so they are not total strangers to him.  Hope it carries on peacefully!


I was recently bought a present:


It goes with my Star Wars collection, making a real centre piece for the games  (I have put a normal sized fighter next to it for comparison).  We tried it out on Monday.  It managed to give Darth Vader a rough ride before some Imperial bombers blew it to pieces with proton torpedoes.  Great fun for all!

Tomorrow is a big day - Mrs RC and I will have been together for 30 years!  I have taken the day off work and we are going to an local wildlife part for a picnic.  Should be a nice day!

More soon!



Friday, 5 June 2015

Snip from the new book


For lack of anything more interesting to report, here is a snippet from the new book.
This takes place on a prison planet.  Some of the guards have revolted, killing the others and abandoning the prisoners who are also trying to escape from the planet.
It is still in the early stages, but I think it gives an idea of what the book will be like.


I began my assent, heading for the sixth floor and ignoring the other floors that I passed through.  I could check them out later, if there was going to be a “later”.  I knew from previous visits to similar institutions that the sixth floor was the nerve centre of the whole colony.  When I was nearly at the top I was confronted by a sealed door, the glowing red edges indicating full lockdown.  This disappointed me a little, but at least what lay beyond would not have been destroyed by the prisoners.

There were probably only two ways I was going to get through this door.

The slow way involved dragging some cutting equipment over from one of the mines, which was not a thought I relished.

But the fast way relied on the incompetence and dysfunctionality of what remained of the Galactic Empire’s data system.  What the heck, there was no way I was carrying a cutter up from the mines if I didn’t have to!

I stepped up to the door.

“Welcome” said the computer’s formal, but slightly sexy, female voice.  Why did they insist on doing that?  Was it because the people that put these systems together never meet real women?  I guess I will never know, now.  “Prepare for Body-Scan-ID.”

I stood still to let the scanner do its work.

The glow around the door faded.

“Welcome, Galactic Emperor Zurdarg IV.”

The door slid open and I was able to climb the last flight of stairs, emerging in the middle of the hexagonal command centre.  The commanders of a Penal Colony had very little to do.  Weeks or months could pass between breaks in the automated routine and my surroundings reflected this.  Apart from a few control consoles and a large holo-screen with a countdown ticking away on it, the room was mainly fitted out for leisure.  Comfortable seating, assorted games, a small gym.  The domed Plexiglass roof gave impressive views in all directions of soaring mountains on three sides, which opened out to an endless plain on the fourth, which is where the starship landing area had been constructed.  There were two ships there.  The colony’s own transporter was just leaving the ground, while the huge freighter that brought in supplies and new prisoners, and took away the metal from the mines was surrounded by a seething mass of ex-prisoners.

I turned back to the holo-screen, which currently read 5.672.

5.671.

“Computer.”

“Yes, your Imperial Majesticness?”

It was a long time since I had last been called by that ridiculous title, and it had definitely triggered the computer’s flirty sub-routines.

“Computer, w-”

“Yes, your imp-”

“What is the countdown for?”

“The countdown, your Imperial Majesticness, is to the total and absolute destruction of this colony.”

“Damn!”

5.324.

“Is something wrong, your Imperial Majesticness?”  If the computer had a face it would be pouting by now, about to go into “talking to the cat” mode, saying what a bad tempered person I was.

5.026.

“Yes, there is!” I shouted.  “I hate being called that! Stop calling me “Your Imperial Majesticness!”

4.998.

“Of course, Your W-”

“Zurdarg!  Call me Zurdarg!”

“Of course, Zurdarg IV, Benef-”

“No!  None of those silly titles!”

4.671.

“But His Imperial Mightiness Who is Lord and Master of the Entire Galaxy must be addressed using one of the titles from the approved list”, she protested in a voice that had been used by gazillions of people in the past while explaining the need for yet another pair of shoes with a matching bag.

3.981.

“And you have a file that contains this list?”

“Of course, Your Mightiness, Commander-in-Chief of the All-Conquering Imperial Battlefleet.”  She was on to flattery now.

3.257.

“Show it to me!”

“Yes, Your Majestic Tastefulness, Creator of the Most Wonderous Pizza Ever Encountered in All of the Known Galaxies.”

The list appeared on the holo-screen.

2.617.

It was a massive list, accumulated by myself and my three ancestors whether we liked it or not, evidence of the obsequious flattery that people had tried to use to control us.

1.977.

“Delete them all” I instructed.

The list shrank and vanished, lessening the tightness in my chest as it went.

1.237.

“Now add Zurdarg.”

The name appeared.

0.723.

“Yes, Zurdarg.”  Did I detect a sulky undertone?

I sighed with relief.

0.431.

“Oh, and stop the bloody countdown!”

“Yes, Zurdarg.”  Definitely sulking…

The countdown stopped.

0.001.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Watch out for that as....



Had great fun on Saturday.  I went to a local game store and had a day playing X-Wing, the Star Wars game that I play.


Each player brought his own squadron of 3 to 5 ships (there is a point system that allows a range of ships to be used while keeping the game reasonably fair - Han Solo flying the Millennium Falcon costs the same as about 4 of the cheapest TIE Fighters), meaning that there was a nice variety of stuff on show.  I was Imperial and used a shuttle and a pair of very deadly TIE fighter variants.  Other players were Rebels or Scum (mercenaries and bounty hunters).


I won one of my three games, one was a draw.  The two I lost were very close and could have gone either way.  One ended when my opponent had a sudden rush of good dice just as time was called, while in the other one I managed to ram my last surviving ship into an asteroid.  But surely that is a classic way for a TIE fighter to die?


Here is a photo of one of the games, with everyone getting up close and personal:



Good fun had by all!


Meanwhile, the wildlife in our garden is doing well, and I managed to snap this pic the other day.  I can't resist a flower with a bug on it, for some reason, so much better than just having the flower, don't you think?  This flower is on one of our pond plants.  Those are lily pads in the background.



Our bird table continues to thrive too, with daily visits from sparrows, starlings, black birds, dunnocks, wood pigeons, doves and a blue tit.  Babies are starting to join the parents too, which all adds to the fun!

Which brings me to a comment about doves, the bird of peace.  From what I have seen, doves can be very nasty to each other.  They are happy in pairs and multiples of pairs, but if you get a single one trying to join the gang he is soon bullied and driven away.  But when it comes to other birds, doves are right at the bottom of the scale, even being chased off by the smallest of sparrows.  I guess the only thing a dove can beat up is another dove...


Thursday, 21 May 2015

Old Bones 2

As a further prompt to ShadowRun:

You might also remember seeing the life sized model of a Blue Whale (with a real skeleton hanging above it)? 

It used to have a lot more space around it, but it is now rather hemmed in, making it harder to get a good photo.



Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Old Bones

The weekend was hectic, with Saturday taken up with shopping and general rushing around, while Sunday was my younger daughter's birthday.


She was 19.


As she is now vegan, and has been for the better part of a year now, the party dinner was entirely vegan.  OK, I did do a bit of pork, but in the end this was totally unnecessary, most of it being fed to the dogs.  Mrs RC pulled out all the stops and made us a wonderful buffet of mainly Indian and Chinese style food.  It was amazing!  Even my mum, a certified carnivore, got stuck in and was full of compliments.


I took Monday off work, so that Mrs RC, our daughter and I could have a day out.  Our daughter wanted to have a day at the Natural History Museum, to feed her rediscovered interest in dinosaurs.  The trip started off badly - our first train was late, the second broke down,


and the third one stopped at every single stop along the way, but once we got to London it was all plain sailing.


The ride on the underground/subway was fun.  The girls had never been on them before, and I could see that Mrs RC was expecting it to be like the scene in Deathwish where the gang of knife-wielding thugs goes through the train robbing people.  I suspect she was a little disappointed by the lack of threatening people there, but she still did not enjoy the ride.


The museum was great fun, and we spent hours admiring the various skeletons and animatronic dinosaurs around the place.  I had not been there since I was a child, and had a strange mix of recognising the place but feeling that things had moved around a lot too.  Of course, the familiar dinosaur skeleton right inside the entrance was still there (though it is going to move soon, I hear) which probably did a lot to jog my memory.


At some point we hit the gift shop and bought a cuddly dinosaur and mammoth.  Had to be done.  She may be 19, but she is still our little girl and said that on that day she actually felt about 4 years old.  We like to see kids grow up at their own speed, there is too much pressure on them to become adults before they have finished being children.  And who am I to tell people to grow up, anyway!

Our daughter had the foresight to book Tuesday off work too, unlike me.  I try to ignore the sings that I am gradually getting older, but it was really hard that day.  Maybe they can make space for me as an exhibit at the museum?

Friday, 15 May 2015

A MESSAGE FROM THE QUEEN


(I don't normally pass on second hand stuff but I thought this was rather good.  I hope you agree.)



To the citizens of the United States of America from Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

In light of your failure in recent years to nominate competent candidates for President of the USA and thus to govern yourselves, we hereby give notice of the revocation of your independence, effective immediately. (You should look up 'revocation' in the Oxford English Dictionary.)

Her Sovereign Majesty Queen Elizabeth II will resume monarchical duties over all states, commonwealths, and territories (except North Dakota, which she does not fancy).

Your new Prime Minister, David Cameron, will appoint a Governor for America without the need for further elections.

Congress and the Senate will be disbanded. A questionnaire may be circulated next year to determine whether any of you noticed.

To aid in the transition to a British Crown dependency, the following rules are introduced with immediate effect:

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1. The letter 'U' will be reinstated in words such as 'colour,' 'favour,' 'labour' and 'neighbour.' Likewise, you will learn to spell 'doughnut' without skipping half the letters, and the suffix '-ize' will be replaced by the suffix '-ise.' Generally, you will be expected to raise your vocabulary to acceptable levels. (look up 'vocabulary').

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2. Using the same twenty-seven words interspersed with filler noises such as ''like' and 'you know' is an unacceptable and inefficient form of communication. There is no such thing as U.S. English. We will let Microsoft know on your behalf. The Microsoft spell-checker will be adjusted to take into account the reinstated letter 'u'' and the elimination of '-ize.'

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3. July 4th will no longer be celebrated as a holiday.

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4. You will learn to resolve personal issues without using guns, lawyers, or therapists. The fact that you need so many lawyers and therapists shows that you're not quite ready to be independent. Guns should only be used for shooting grouse. If you can't sort things out without suing someone or speaking to a therapist, then you're not ready to shoot grouse.

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5. Therefore, you will no longer be allowed to own or carry anything more dangerous than a vegetable peeler. Although a permit will be required if you wish to carry a vegetable peeler in public.

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6. All intersections will be replaced with roundabouts, and you will start driving on the left side with immediate effect. At the same time, you will go metric with immediate effect and without the benefit of conversion tables. Both roundabouts and metrication will help you understand the British sense of humour.

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7. The former USA will adopt UK prices on petrol (which you have been calling gasoline) of roughly $10/US gallon. Get used to it.

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8. You will learn to make real chips. Those things you call French fries are not real chips, and those things you insist on calling potato chips are properly called crisps. Real chips are thick cut, fried in animal fat, and dressed not with catsup but with vinegar.

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9. The cold, tasteless stuff you insist on calling beer is not actually beer at all. Henceforth, only proper British Bitter will be referred to as beer, and European brews of known and accepted provenance will be referred to as Lager. South African beer is also acceptable, as they are pound for pound the greatest sporting nation on earth and it can only be due to the beer. They are also part of the British Commonwealth - see what it did for them. American brands will be referred to as Near-Frozen Gnat's Urine, so that all can be sold without risk of further confusion.

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10. Hollywood will be required occasionally to cast English actors as good guys. Hollywood will also be required to cast English actors to play English characters. Watching Andie Macdowell attempt English dialect in Four Weddings and a Funeral was an experience akin to having one's ears removed with a cheese grater.

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11. You will cease playing American football. There is only one kind of proper football; you call it soccer. Those of you brave enough will, in time, be allowed to play rugby (which has some similarities to American football, but does not involve stopping for a rest every twenty seconds or wearing full kevlar body armour like a bunch of nancies).

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12. Further, you will stop playing baseball. It is not reasonable to host an event called the World Series for a game which is not played outside of America. Since only 2.1% of you are aware there is a world beyond your borders, your error is understandable. You will learn cricket, and we will let you face the South Africans first to take the sting out of their deliveries.

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13.. You must tell us who killed JFK. It's been driving us mad.

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14. An internal revenue agent (i.e. tax collector) from Her Majesty's Government will be with you shortly to ensure the acquisition of all monies due (backdated to 1776).

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15. Daily Tea Time begins promptly at 4 p.m. with proper cups, with saucers, and never mugs, with high quality biscuits (cookies) and cakes; plus strawberries (with cream) when in season.



God Save the Queen!