Day 107 – Post-Game Analysis

Last night the world returned to normal…
…we had a Wednesday for 4
…we had a cheese platter
…we had a dinner together
…we had a game of Trains
…Abbey fell asleep halfway through

Cheese and Fruit and Paste, Oh My!
Cheese and Fruit and Paste, Oh My!

Obviously, last week also had a Wednesday after Ken’s return from holidays, but that was mostly consumed with talk about said holiday. So this week felt more real than last week.

And with four it also feels a bit more real; Lexi came along as well… which was as well, because once dinner had been had, Abbey fell asleep on the lounge. If not for Lexi it would have been a one-on-one match of Trains between Ken and myself and that is just not as much fun.

Grey Geese in Glasses
Grey Geese in Glasses

We availed ourselves of the bounty of Ken’s travel; he brought back a goose in a bottle from the airport duty free. It was definitely good vodka, but I’m not sure if it was substantially better than Smirnoff Black. I must admit I am a little out of Vodka practice, so my taste buds may not have been as discerning as they could have been.

Cappuccino Crisp
Cappuccino Crisp

And as much as everyone else was enjoying the “New” Cappuccino Crisp chocolate, I was pretty certain myself that I had bought it at least once before. But why spoil the illusion by saying something? 🙂

I tried to restrain myself from having too much chocolate, or too much food, and in the end it looks like it might have been a successful tactic. Last night the scales only registered 1kg that hadn’t been there in the morning, which is not bad for a Wednesday.

G(ame) & T(ea)
G(ame) & T(ea)

I didn’t win the game.

This is after all Ticket to Ride. Ken always wins. (almost)

But it was a very enjoyable evening. And a tiring day all up.

Day 106 –

Been a busy day so far.

It’s almost time to head off to Ken’s for Wednesday. I’ll take pictures and report back later. A hunt through Coles has provided me the requisite dips, cheeses, chocolate, crackers and a drink. The board games we’ll need are already at Ken’s, and dinner will probably be ordered in upon arrival.

My normal scheduled programming should return tomorrow.

Thanks for your patience! Please Hold… Your Readership is Important to Me.
*cue the faint bland elevator music*

Day 105 – Just Fatigued

I was hunting around for something interesting to write about today.

But I think I’m going to have to admit that today was just a dull day overall.

I had my usual morning coffee on the way into work. Had a chat with the barista, who joked I should have a double shot if I was going to be in a meeting all day long.

Which brings me to the management meeting from 9:30am till 4:00pm that constituted my work day today. Peter got himself nominated in his capacity as 2IC to attend the meeting as well. I’m not sure if he’ll count it as experience or torture. Maybe a bit of both?

Luckily there were some catered breaks in the meeting, and someone took coffee orders early on. Which was good, because I’m not sure I would have made it through the whole day with that extra shot of coffee after all.

Then after that meeting I went to the gym early to zone out, because my brain just wasn’t working any more. I thought my cycle class was at 5:30pm, but that turned out to be 5:45pm instead, so I spent 40-odd minutes on the treadmills first. It’s good for the views, but perhaps not the best way to prime my legs for a 45 minute cycle class.

I felt like a slacker in the class, not standing up as much as I should. And I wasn’t sure if I had taken my allergy medication, because my nostrils felt smaller than they ought to be in that way I associate with unmedicated inhalation of grass seeds.

I was glad to be home by 7pm, ready to crash on the lounge.

After a shower.

And “cooking”, which in air-quotes is my euphemistic way of saying I went down the road to buy burgers and fries, only to return with fish and chips instead. I always forget the burger place closes at 7pm on weekdays.

Anyway, then I spent some time watching TV, and then, up until around 11pm I sat procrastinating on the internet, reading about Knockout.js wondering what I might possibly write about.

But in reality, the most interesting thing about my day is probably how tired my legs and brains feel. Better luck tomorrow?

Day 104 – Five Songs (part 1?)

This is a mistake.
Nothing good will come of this.

I decided I’d go to the Australian Singles Charts for the week and watch the 5 highest ranked singles that I am unfamiliar with (which this week is all 5 of them), and write about the experience.

If it doesn’t send me into a spiral of despair I might even do it again sometime.

As per: Australian-Charts.com (I tried Aria, but their site loads like a dog (I have no idea what that means exactly, but it sounded right)).

  1. Roar – Katy Perry
  2. Girls Just Want to Have Fun – Taylor Henderson (who!?)
  3. Hey Brother – Avicii (band? person? who knows!)
  4. Timber – Pitbull feat. Ke$ha (which I guess makes Pitbull a person)
  5. Wrecking Ball – Miley Cyrus (*groan*… okay… lucky last)

*deep breath*

Here goes then…


Okay; jungle theme then, that makes sense. Duckface explorer, funny… and he’s gone. Good for the tiger.

This song is very forgettable already. The beat completely drowns the song and the lyrics are just plain lazy. I’m sure she can do better than this.

I have no idea why this song is number 1, other than the mild humour, the sex appeal and a very sing-alongable song.

Oh wait… I guess that explains it then.
This definitely never needs to end up in my playlist.

Moving on.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XCHCxCVNFTE
Oh no… I don’t want to watch this show! 🙁

Well, the singing sounds promising at least. Even if he looks a bit too slick if you ask me.

And then, it suddenly gets musically interesting. I like a cover done creatively like this; and he can in fact sing. I might even go so far as to say that as long as I don’t look at the screen, this is actually a very good cover/song.

*Pause* yeah, the judges bit I really don’t need to see, thanks.

That was unexpectedly enjoyable. Shame it’s over in 2 minutes.
I wouldn’t call it “great” or “art”, but I’d say it’s worth throwing in the mix.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BuvQrjOt1Ic
Manga, this could go either way…

30 seconds in. I think I’m sold al… yes, that’s the beat this needs. I wonder if the lyrics/video are borrowed/remixed for this.

Okay, this will definitely have to go into my playlist. Maybe this wasn’t such a bad plan after all.

I like the folky/electronicy mix of this sound. And the visuals go with it very well too… “There’s nothing in this world I wouldn’t do” goes very well with epic visuals.

And it closes where it begins. That was very nice… do it again, do it again!

Yes… this is actually a very good song. The music stands strongly on its own, but the visuals still fit perfectly with it to enhance the experience.

I just did a search while listening to it a second time; the lyrics are originals for the song. I’m going to have to listen to some more of his work to see if it stacks up.



Evoking a country sound; opening chords actually make me think of Sting – Heavy Cloud but No Rain… no visuals with this one it seems.

I’m torn. I kinda like the soundscape of this song. The thumping-bass/harmonica mix with interspersed rap fragments actually has something to it.

But the lyrics… this is so… banal and flat.
I wonder if there is a Spanish version or something, because if I couldn’t understand what they were singing I think this would actually be a much more enjoyable song.

Okay… I’m stopping this now, because it’s just not getting any better.



Again, I’m sure she can do better than this. A passable pop-song, but certainly nothing special.

And there we have the sex-appeal to sell the song… that’s disappointing.

Well, I’m sure the controversy over the twerk-cident has certainly not done her any harm with regards to selling music. But it doesn’t make the music itself better.

I’d still say this is a better song than Katy’s Roar above… simply because it doesn’t sound like it was written to fit around a metronome. But also not something to go on the playlist.


Two out of five ain’t bad.

I must confess, I don’t think Taylor Henderson will actually end up on my playlist, but I wouldn’t avoid it either if it happened to be playing.

Avicii though is worthy of further study.
Most definitely.

Sydney Savaged – A Dangerous Idea

Mid last week, an envelope arrived from the Sydney Opera House. It took me by surprise, because I wasn’t expecting anything.

The contents of the envelope looked like advertising, but luckily I looked more closely before referring it to the bin. They were my Dan Savage tickets that I had ordered months ago and had completely forgotten about again.

For those that do not know who Dan Savage is, let me give you a small selection of links to follow. Beware; at the other end of these links there is a high dose of snark, sarcasm and wit. Also, sex advice from his column… it is often funny, but I need to make sure you know what you’re in for.

  • Dan Savage’s online columnin which people write in their problems (sometimes hilarious problems, often hilarious advice)
  • Dan Savage’s podcastin which people leave voicemail with their problems (see above)
  • Dan Savage’s YouTube channelin which Dan visits campuses and students write their problems on cue cards
  • Dan Savage’s “It Gets Better” projectin which Dan has tried to counteract despair with hope to cut suicide by gay teenagers

I’m not sure what to expect from the show the tickets are for, but my guess is it’ll be somewhere in the ballpark of the third bullet point. It’ll be great to see him speak up-close and in person.

Day 103 – Game of Bad Walking Dex

Today I spent a substantial part of my day watching The Walking Dead. I had started Season 3 not that long ago after buying it on BluRay, but watching it one or two at a time on the weekend felt too slow. So today I decided to watch the last 6 surrounding errands and chores.

The bleakness has seeped all through the living room.

Every character has problems. Every one is broken.

I find the absence of a back-story for the zombie epidemic both a smart move (some things once explained limit the directions you can take from there), and a disconcerting one. Without an explanation, there cannot be a cure… and without a cure there are only two ways it can end, neither of which is particularly idyllic.

Breaking Bad cast
Breaking Bad cast

The Walking Dead is far from the only show on television filled with complicated, compromised and flawed characters. I haven’t gotten all the way through Breaking Bad yet, but closing on the end of Season 4, almost every one of the lead characters has a sizeable army of skeletons tucked away.

I’ve been desperately avoiding spoilers since the show ended recently, but it doesn’t take much imagination to see that there’s no room for a completely happy ending for everyone.

For some to thrive, others will need to die.
It’s just a matter of who is who…

Game of Thrones - last supper
Game of Thrones – last supper

And let’s not forget the adaptation of A Song of Ice and Fire, now probably better known as “Game of Thrones”. I would never have suspected it is possible to have an epic story stay coherent with this much slaughter of the leading cast. And yet, … there it is.

George RR Martin has often stated the reason for his approach is that he wants the reader to actually be in fear of his characters. Traditionally you can rely on the hero surviving, and therefore there is never any real danger. I think the flip-side of that coin is that I now find myself mentally calling for certain characters to die for obvious reasons, yet they never seem to.

And this level of bloody-mindedness has spawned a fascinating meme of video recordings of people watching their favourite characters die. I believe a search for “Red Wedding” on YouTube should give you all you need in that regard.

But of course… there is a point of origin for all this recent flawed-lead-character madness.

Dexter... at the source of it all
Dexter… at the source of it all

I barely could believe at the time that Dexter ever got made for US television at the time.

It seemed inconceivable to me that the country that spawned numerous cop shows and procedurals, all aimed at the inevitable bringing-to-justice of all and sundry criminals, could ever get emotionally invested in a lead that killed for a hobby.

Eight years of Dexter have proven once and for all, that once you allow an audience to enjoy a flawed character, there just isn’t any stopping that train.

I guess it just makes everyone feel better about themselves to compare themselves against characters they cannot ever imagine themselves being like.

And yet; Breaking Bad is already getting pretty close to the “one inevitable step after another” model that should be making some viewers more than a little uncomfortable. And I wouldn’t be surprised if the trend towards ever more subtly falling angels will continue for a while yet.

It’s a bit like horror and thrillers.

We’re all collectively daring each other to watch ever more morally uncomfortable shows… and loving every second of it.


Attribution

Day 102 – CBD

Today was a great day to be out in the sun. I half wished I had brought my kindle and not the camera, because the lawns in the botanical gardens were immensely inviting.

On the other hand, I *did* get some great shots today.

Day 101 – Smart Weighing

And another toy arrives!

Yesterday a card left in the mail announced that there had been nobody to sign for delivery. So this morning before work, I made a quick detour via the local post office.

After a quick dash back to the car I ripped the shipping satchel and the bubble wrap to briefly peek into the box. I wanted to make sure that if battery purchases would be needed I could make them during the day.

All this adds up to the delivery of my brand new FitBit Aria Wifi-enabled Scales!

So Simple, So Smart
So Simple, So Smart

Now I can just step onto the scales in the morning, wait a few moments, and then my weight and body fat percentage will zip through the Wifi back to my dashboard before I make it halfway up the hallway.

No more short-term memory needed!

As soon as my foot makes contact with the scales they kick into action.

Apparently it can also recognise who steps on the scales and identify up to 8 people using the system. I have no idea how it works this out, but there must be something in the measurements that can serve as a signature of sorts. I am curious, but not curious enough to research it right now… as long as it works!

As soon as I got to my dashboard it congratulated me on all the weight I have lost since July when I set up the account. Apparently none of the measurements I manually entered in that period count towards badges. The software has wisely decided that it cannot trust the user to be truthful about their weight.

Packaged very Neatly
Packaged very Neatly

Before all that, the set-up took some doing though. The instructions are fairly terse, and my Wifi networks are password protected or invisible.

First, I started from my desktop machine. Log in to FitBit account… check. Enter name for new device, and enter my initials for the scales… check. Disconnect from Wifi, and connect to scales Wifi to continue setup… uhm… what?

Apparently, integral to the set-up process is a connection to the web server inside the scales to set up its connection to the network.

I feel a little odd using the phrase “web server inside the scales”. This world we live in is a magical place indeed.

Anyway, I decided to switch to my phone for the rest of the process… which failed. I could connect to the scales, but switching devices halfway through is apparently not the way to go.

Okay, I don’t want to enter my complex FitBit password on the phone. Let’s try the downloadable app…

… misery!

I got the set-up app installed on my laptop, and connected to the scales, and it said it was sending network details, and… hang. Again. And again. And again.

I tried every permutation I could think of. Maybe the open guest network? Nope. Maybe if I enable the Wifi on the modem and use that? Nope. Searching the FitBit forums for help suggested turning off the firewall, using 802.11b, using… Nope, Nope, Nope.

And then I found an unboxing video that made it all look so easy and seamless using nothing more than a mobile.

And Connected!
And Connected!

So I went back to square one, opened the browser in my phone, meticulously copied my complex password… and followed the instructions.

And home run first try!

I have no idea what is wrong with the PC-based installation options, but it’s very poor that none of those earlier attempts provided error messages or feedback that was sufficient to indicate what the problem was. Clearly there was nothing wrong with any of the technology involved because it worked first try when I stuck to my phone.

But now all is forgiven.

It works, and it is remarkably easy.

All my measurements end up timestamped in the dashboard as well, so I can even weigh myself multiple times a day without getting a confusing graph. And getting body fat numbers is equally interesting and dismaying.

Now I have another goal to strive for!

I have no idea what the various body fat percentage ranges on Wikipedia actually equate to in practical reality, but I’ve settled on a 15%-ish target for now, from a current 20%-ish.

I’ll do some more research later.

Day 100 – Return to Tradition

Last night was the first Wednesday we had in five weeks. For some reason with Mr.Ken in Asia, the regular Wednesday Festivities just do not come together like they ought to.

This also means that this morning I am 1kg heavier than I should be. A few days will take care of that though.

Jade Egg for Luck
Jade Egg for Luck

Ken returned from Malaysia and Vietnam with some lucky gifts. Or I am choosing to interpret them as lucky, although there was some suggestion that Jade may instead be for wealth. I’ll happily take either if it works, or the Jade for its own sake if it doesn’t.

Apparently I have been brainwashed though, because at first the colour of the egg threw me. I was sure it was Jade, but it just wasn’t as green as I felt it should be. But the above colouring is the natural one, so I’ll assume that the Jade I’ve seen in the past has all been treated with something.

Jade Horse for Wealth
Jade Horse for Wealth

It may actually be that Jade is for wealth. The horse seems to have caught some money at least. 3,000 Dong which translates to about 15 cents. As you might imagine, Ken was a multi-millionaire while travelling.

What surprised me is that apparently it is quite easy to get by with English and gesturing in Malaysia. When Ken ran into trouble trying to get a “horse”, finding a specimen to point at and then explaining the size requirements in English was apparently a very effective combination.

A Game of Tsuro
A Game of Tsuro

But most importantly, the return of Wednesdays means the return of board games. We talked most of the evening about Ken’s travels, so we needed a nice quick game for the end of the evening.

Tsuro takes about 15-20 minutes for a full game with 3 players. It can accommodate up to 8 though.

Everybody starts at the edge of the board with their stone and gets three tiles with crisscrossing paths on them to start with.

A Clash of Stones
A Clash of Stones

As the game progresses you put down a tile each turn next to where your stone is, and then move them to the next edge along the newly created paths.

You may not cause your own stone to crash into the edge unless you have no other alternative.

When you hit the edge, you lose.

A Feast for Jerry
A Feast for Jerry

Which means that at the start of the game, everybody starts off doing their own thing at the edge, but as you get closer to others the tile placements get more sneaky and nasty.

The aim is to place a tile that moves you forward but crashes someone else into the edge of the board.

There are enough tiles in the game to fill all but one space on the board. This *almost* guarantees that there will be only one survivor.

Although, technically it is possible to finish an 8 player game in an 8-way-draw with all the players standing around the last remaining open spot in the middle of the board with no further tiles to play.

I don’t know what the odds of that outcome theoretically are… but I know Wednesdays, and I doubt it’ll ever actually happen.

Day 99 – Candy Resupply

All the Specials of the Day at Coles. Alas, still no dark-chocolate Cherry Ripes.
All the Specials of the Day at Coles. Alas, still no dark-chocolate Cherry Ripes.

As you may have noticed in an earlier post on the matter of bribery, I keep a drawer full of chocolate at work. These days I get batches of people showing for multiple $1 purchases at a time. I’m not sure it is exactly bribery any more.

Still, it is providing a service and it seems to help morale, so who am I to argue?

In my absence in Melbourne last week it seems the stock level in the drawer has become precipitously low, so on my way home I had a quick stop by Coles to re-supply. I buy whatever is on special on the day in large quantities.

A little kid stood next to me as I filled my basket looking on in wonder. Quoth the boy: “Wow, that’s a lot of chocolate”. In that kind of voice that suggests maybe you don’t quite need all of it for yourself. Sorry kid.

Also note, the Choo-Choo-Bars at the top of the image will not be for sale. They will go free to a good home with a full disclaimer of any liability. I tried one on the weekend and it nearly broke my mouth. First come first serve!