Thursday, 2 February 2017

Getting Old

OK, I'm getting on a bit but I still leap out of bed in the morning and then spend half an hour waiting for the muscle spasms to go away, I see people in shops and see older people and think I must have been in school with your son/daughter and then realise I was actually in school with them and so the other night, I was watching Grand Tour  in which Jeremy Clarkson was talking about the signs of getting old. 

His main suggestion was that if you stopped trying to race a train that was driving by the side of the road it was time to give up. While this is a sign of impending temporal termination there are many more other serious indications, I 'll go through these below.

Not trying to race a helicopter.

When in a car by yourself, not asking permission from the space station controller to dock while parking at the local supermarket.

Walking round the supermarket and not pretending that the trolley handle is a twist grip and you are in fact in control of a motorbike, boat, tank and so on.

When you enter a shop that has an inside and outside door, you don't pretend it's an airlock anymore.

Not speaking the phrase "activate station keeping thrusters Mr Sulu" when applying the handbrake at traffic lights.

You pick up a fountain and you don't take the top off and say "Open Channel D".

Not putting full beam on when it snows and pretending to go into warp drive.

Looking in a clothes shop window and thinking, that's a nice cardigan.

Buying the cardigan.

Buying corduroy trousers to go with the cardigan.

We now go onto the more serious signs.....

While walking round a store, you whistle some random tune at random intervals.

Sitting down with your car keys in your hand, rattling the keys continuously in time with some unheard and random beat.

Doing the same with change in your pocket.

And now the final sign of that your life as a man has come to an end, once you reach this stage give up. 

Send yourself off Dignitas as you're not going to last much longer.

You open the Littlewoods / Grattan catalogue and the first thing you do is turn to look at the watches instead of the ladies lingerie pages. Once your here, look out around for the man with the scythe, it's time to go.

Friday, 27 May 2016

Ingress, I've hung up my scanner

For about 3 years I've been playing a virtual reality game called Ingress, basically you have to travel to places and by travel I meant physically go there, capture portals and link 3 together as a triangle, everything under that triangle is then under control of your team, there are two teams, the resistance and enlightened, the enlightened want to work with aliens to accelerate humans, the resistance want it to continue as normal. The game is run by Niantic, an offshoot of Google and is free, except for some of the stuff in the store and the vast amount of petrol you use travelling to portals.

It was great, you got to find things that you didn't know about and added to a day out, what eventually happens is you go out to find portals, capture them and ignore everything else and this wasn't helped when they introduced a badge called the "Sojourner Badge". This is like an Ingress addict badge, it forces you to hack a portal every 24 hours and if you don't you go right back to the start of the hacking streak. I missed one day on holiday last year and has to start again and eventually got my black or onyx badge, I felt nothing.

And very recently, Niantic have introduced a cheat detect routine in their software that has managed to get legitimate players banned while known cheats and spoofers are allowed to carry on.

Then there's the portal issues, there are quite a few fake or obsolete portals out there, you report them and Niantic say there is no evidence to support the removal. One local portal was a church until 2 years ago, it's now a block of flats, no evidence. There are obvious fake portals and so much more and it's stopped being fun to play. I do blame the Sojourner badge, it made me hack every 24 hours and it then became something I had to do as opposed to something I wanted to do.

I've gone for a name change from Agent37168, my old Geek Squad badge number to Th3MajorTom and that has not helped.

So, it's time to hang up the scanner for now, I've uninstalled the software and sent my account deletion email, it will take some time to come through and I may change my mind but at the moment I've had enough.

Thanks to Niantic for taking the fun out of the game.

Monday, 3 August 2015

Raw Camel

July the 23rd in Wolverhampton was the night, Wulfrun Hall was the venue, Camel were the band. The seating was uncomfortable, the hall could have done with some redecoration, the Seleco projector in the lighting rig looked like it had been there for some time and then Camel arrived on stage. There were problems with the sound equipment causing a bit of distortion but the band were fantastic, that is really what I think. The playing by all members was awesome, they were up on stage doing what they do best and they all seemed to be thoroughly enjoying themselves. Ton and Jason on keyboards were superb, Ton's style is different from the late Guy LeBlanc who he took over from on this tour but his piano on Long Goodbyes was brilliant. Jason seemed to be playing various instruments during the show and deserves to be recognised as a brilliant performer in hos own right.

Then there's Denis on drums, I swear he had 4 arms at one point, the man is amazing and he doesn't seem to break into a sweat.

Next we come to Mr Colin Bass of the bass guitar who just stands there effortlessly playing away and is looking good with his new growth of facial hair, he's also done some wonderful solo albums and produces some class bands including 9bach.

And last but not least there's Andy Latimer, the man behind the band. This man can put so many different emotions into a guitar, he is up there with the greatest in my humble opinion.

The band played a selection tracks old and new including some of my favourites, Ice, Mother Road, Drafted and Long Goodbyes. I'd love to say they were perfect, but they weren't. Perfect doesn't even come close to describing how good they were, this was Camel, live and raw, having a good time, playing some of their best tracks.

The last track, Long Goodbyes was dedicated to Chris Rainbow and Guy LeBlanc who had both been members of the band and had regretfully passed away, images of them were projected onto screens as it was played, I have to be honest I cried like a baby.

After the concert I got to meet up with Andy and Colin, I asked Colin if he could sign my ticket for my granny. His face lit up and he looked at me and said "you're Paul Holt". He is a really nice bloke and is fitting in with his local community in North Wales even learning Welsh.

Andy is also a really nice humble person. I mentioned that I met him last at a Liverpool concert, couldn't remember the place but it began with an R. A few minutes later the name came to me, it was the Lomax. This seemed to cause quite a but of humour and references to the Romax.

 I look forward to seeing them again hopefully and look forward to any new material they produce.

Till then, Never Let Go.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

How to start a van

Today, I had to hire a van locally. I picked it up from a company called Brisco WIlliams, no problems at all with the vehicle and it behaved impeccably. The only issue I had was the instructions I was given. Basically, to start the van I had to depress the clutch, so I got in the van, put the keys in the ignition and made a start. I told the clutch that although it was a nice day, it had forecast rain for the weekend. I turned the key and nothing happened. I then told the clutch that on this gorgeous hot sunny day I was going to make it work hard going up and down the hills in mid Wales, still nothing. Then I I decided to get personal, I told the clutch that it was only there because the makers couldn't be bothered fitting an automatic gearbox, nothing, I told it that it was a waste of floor space as the other pedals either made the van go faster or slower, nothing happened.

This was it, I had reached a breaking point and decided that I was going to get physical, I warned the clutch that I would stamp on it as if it were an insignificant insect on the floor, turned the key and sod all happened. That's when I lost it and stamped on it with all my night shouting out that it's mother was a hamster and it's father smelled of elderberries, I turned the key and it started.

That was when  realised that I may have got the wrong end of the stick when the gentleman at the van hire place said I had to depress the clutch to start it.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Goodbye to Tech Support

For many years I have worked in the "Customer Service" side of home technology and I'd now like to say that I have happily moved away from it. The main reason behind this is the public, they are with the odd exception a complete and utter pain in the arse.

To give you an idea, I have had calls from people that can't access their wireless network when they are 200 miles away from home. People who think that the blue screen of death on their computer is because their broadband is broken, people who blame their ISP as their computer has a virus. People who say their broadband is running slow who have a Windows XP machine with 256Mb of RAM and no hard drive space, people who insist that their wireless is faulty as the range has gone down or the speed has decreased. And one of my favourites, I have 5 devices that connect but my new laptop won't the broadband must be faulty.

All the above are generally down to faults with anything other than broadband. You, the public, believe that a broadband provider will fix anything to do with your computer, would you take your car to a petrol station if your gearbox went faulty, no. But, the public in general has made it so hard and is so demanding that they expect their ISP to fix anything and everything and they expect their monthly charges to go down and speeds to go up.

I really used to enjoy providing tech support and fixing things but now I can safely say I have never been happier.

Monday, 19 May 2014

I've decided to become American

It seem about 4 hours ago that I turned 50, well that's what it seems like anyway. So much has happened since then including a move to Runcorn to be nearer work, then promotion to Rotherham, a change of jobs to go to the dark side and then a move back to South Wales which was part of the original plan to be honest, that is until things started to go wrong.

But now they seem OK, the job is not bad, it could be better as could all jobs but it's not that stressful and it pays enough to ensure that we can live and do things we want to.

And now we come to the part about becoming American. Over there in the colonies, you can't go above 55 and I've now reached that age. It's quite strange that at 54 I had really bad sciatica and had to take pain killers and undergo physio, then suddenly at 55 that seemed to go and although I get a few twinges it's not really there anymore. There's a few other ailments such as a bit of water retention but that's gradually going away and now that I've become American I won't get any older.

What do you mean 55 is the maximum speed limit, oh bugger!

Friday, 20 December 2013


Yes I know it's December and it's also December 2013, I really don't know where the time has gone and once more things are starting to slowly come into place.

It's a Friday morning, I'm having a relax and messing around with my computer while playing some music and a tune came on that I've heard quite often but a few synapses have fired away in my brain and made a connection.

The tune in question is about the month and not a person, but the first few lines talk about June and probably the most important woman in my life.

I know you should say that your wife is the most important woman but without this woman I wouldn't be here.

As I said, June was the most important woman in my life and I never got round to meeting her, that is the saddest part.

 So here's a suggestion, say hello to people a bit more often, forget about disagreements and never let the sun go down on an argument. 

 End of my little ramble for the day and to end, here's Spock's Beard, dedicated to the most important woman I never knew.