Scouting For Al - Computer Skills

I was in the scouts as a kid, mainly as a cub scout from ages 7 - 12 and in the proper Scouts for about six months. And while I was in the scouts I got a total of 1 badge. This one:
Leap, Dolphin! Leap!

I can't remember what it's for but I think Ciarán said his dad designed it. So that's nice.

Looking back on that I see a missed opportunity, and something to do with my free time. So I'm going to try and meet the criteria for every SAI merit badge. Leafing through the badgebook there's a lot of variety. I have no idea how I'm going to find a plane, for example, or who'd let a twelve year old fly one. Luckily there's one section I can do right now, computer skills. Talk about falling in my wheel-house.

The Tasks:
Task 1: Identify the different parts of a personal computer and show how they interact.
This is a little bit tricky. Looking round the house we have: 6 laptops in various states of repair, 3 consoles and a few mp3 players. No desktops though so I'll have to resort to stealing an image from the internet.
Bless you Wikipedia.
You're probably familiar with a computer, unless this is being read to you or you get your internet in newspaper form, but I'll explain it for you anyway.
So you've got the monitor, the telly looking thing. That shows you what the computer is thinking. In this case it is thinking about an orange gradient.
The keyboard is the large rectangle in the front. Usually it has a lot of buttons, or keys, which have all the letters of the alphabet mixed up in a funny way and the numbers from 1 to 0. This one doesn't have any buttons so I assume you place your hand on it and the computer reads your mind.
The small round thing on the left is the mouse. You use the mouse to boss the computer around because like elephants the computer fears mice. Or maybe it moves a cursor round the screen. I get those two confused sometimes.
Finally there's the tower. This is like a block of flats where the CPU lives with its friends hard-drive and DVD drive and its noisy neighbour cooling fan. All the other things are connected to it because CPU is a control freak.

Task 2: Describe two different types of data storage and outline their advantages and disadvantages.
These tasks were written in the time of floppy disks and CDs so I hope the fact that I live in a technical age of wonders won't disqualify me from the badge that I'm too old to actually get.

Task 3: Explain to your examiner the uses of two of the following:
a) Compact Disc Read Only Memory
A CD-ROM is a format that's not used much any more because no-one makes programs smaller than the 700MB a CD can hold. If it's read only you're stuck with the stuff on the disc because your puny disk-drive's laser isn't powerful enough to write onto the disc.

b) Operating System
An operating system is the negotiator that gets all that circuitry to get you onto the internet to look at the LOLcats and whatnot. There are a few different ones, Windows, Mac OSX and Linux are the main ones. Every one of them sucks.

c) Text Editor
It edits text.You type it in, it's there on the screen. You can fancify it if you like. Many will have a  spell-check to tell you that fancify isn't a word. And then you can print your text.

d) Anti-Virus Software
 Scans every pore of your computer for nasty programs out to steal your credit card information or just wreck your stuff. I personally prefer Avast because it's free. Also, yay pirates!

Task 4: Using a Word Processor or a Desktop Publishing package prepare a log of one of your recent Scouting activities.
You're reading it right now. Recursive.

Task 5: Describe how one of the following programmes could be used in Scouting:
a) Computer Aided Design software 
You could design a layout for the camp for the next time the troop goes camping. Location of the food tent, camp-fire, sniper tower to fend off wolves, those kind of things.

b) Spreadsheet
Spreadsheets are normally used to keep track of figures, like say the number of wolf attacks over the past year. You can compare this to the figures from other years to see if the snipers are performing well.


c) Database
Databases can record more than a spreadsheet so I'd use it to keep track of information on the troop members like their date of birth, contact information and if they're allergic to anything. Like wolf maulings.

Task 6: Give your examiner details of a computer package that you have used recently (consoles are acceptable).
I very recently used Blogger to create a blog post about my intention to get every SAI scout badge. I uploaded images and formatted text and created hyperlinks. I then posted that blog to the internet.

Based on successful completion of these tasks and under absolutely no authority but my own I award myself the Computer Skills badge.

Next time: Ropes!

Comics again

I've actually come up with a few plans for the blog. They'll start over the next few weeks. But first, let's talk about this week's comics.


Atomic Robo (Free Comic Book Day 2012):
This has to be the most fun you can have for free. Comic-wise anyway. Atomic Robo is a robot built by Nicola Tesla in the twenties. He's fought Nazis, Lovecraftian horrors and ghosts, met Carl Sagan and somehow pissed off Stephen Hawking. And in this special he teams up with his arch nemesis, a hyper-intelligent velociraptor who claims to be a time traveler, to save the Large Hadron Collider. It is fantastic and free. Read this book.

Batman #9:
For the last eight issues Batman has been facing off against a new threat to Gotham, the Court of Owls. They're a secret society who've been controlling the city for centuries. And now they've sent their assassins, the Talons, to kill influential members of Gotham's society. So it's mostly a fight issue.
There's also a backup strip that seems to be tying in Thomas and Martha Wayne's deaths to the Court of Owls. I'm not too sure about this, adding surprising revelations to an established character's past can come across as just trying to make your threat bigger for the sake of it, but I suppose that's why DC rebooted their universe to shake things up. I'll see how it plays out.

Invincible #91:
God. How do I summarise what's been going on in Invincible. I don't know if I can. Invincible's very continuity heavy. And I don't want to spoil it for any friends of mine reading this. Suffice it to say it's a great book (How many ways can I say this before I give up?), well written and gorgeous art. Umm... yay?

Morning Glories #18:
Another story heavy book, luckily there's only been eighteen issues of it so far. Take six teenagers, put them in an evil boarding school and add a ton of overarching mystery about everything. I'm a big fan of stories with a myth arc like Lost or Fringe. Or Stargate Universe. There can be problems with maintaining the pace of the story and doling out the answers. Give too much information and it feels unbelievable, give too little and readers get frustrated and give up on the book completely. Fortunately writer Nick Spencer has kept the balance right so far, for me at least.

Uncanny X-Force #25:
It's a big anniversary issue, although it feels like business as usual. Usually comics spend multiples of twenty five with a climax to a big story or launching a bold new direction for the book. Not here though. The team is kinda fractured after recent events and there's a lot of character focus on Psylocke and Fantomex in particular with both of them leaving the team, for now at least. But you have to have action so that falls to Deadpool infiltrating a company that make bespoke clone assassins (that's assassins who are clones, not assassins designed to kill clones). The clones are motivated to kill by having memories that their target killed a loved one. That sucks for what's left off X-Force because three clones of Omega Red are out to get them.
The issue also reprints two of Rick Remender's past works. First, a Wolverine story about Wolverine trying to reconcile his noble-warrior side with the berserker side, usual fill-in issue stuff. The second is plain weird. It's a Deadpool story where he's hired to rescue a man who was sent to a fat camp and never returned. Deadpool gets captured and is force fed food for four months until he resembles Homer Simpson when he was clinically obese. It's insane.


Wolverine and the X-Men #10:
This might be my favourite book at the moment. I've been a fan of the X-Men since the cartoon back in the nineties but in recent years the stories had seemed kind of directionless, but I heard about the relaunch a while back read the first issue of this book and jumped right back aboard. I can't stress enough how much I like fun comics and when you've got a schools whose grounds are alive and is infested with tiny Nightcrawlers from another dimension you're on to a winner.
In this issue Cyclops and his X-Men show up after leaving Utopia in last week's Avengers vs. X-Men asking for sanctuary and for Wolverine to join him against the Avengers. Wolverine doesn't go for it but some of his teachers and pupils head off with Scott. There's also a sub-plot with the new mind-wiped Angel realising he's not actually part of the Heavenly Host and Evan (or Genesis), the young clone of Apocalypse looking up this person everyone says he looks like. So it's basically filling in some side details for the big crossover and advancing its own plot. Good stuff.



Some sort of Assemble pun

So today I watched a movie. Over here it's called Avengers Assemble so we don't confuse it with Steed and Mrs Peel (like my mum and granny did, in two separate conversations). I've been waiting for this movie for a while. What did I think?

Love!

It's great. Joss Whedon can direct movies like the proverbial boss and hopefully this gives him some much needed Hollywood clout. Each member of the team gets a moment to shine and they act like a team, eventually. This is a Marvel movie after all. Stan Lee is in there, as usual. The New York public act like they always do in Marvel comics. Loki is incredibly manipulative. There are some tears and a great teaser for the inevitable followup.

I saw it with Sarah, Eoin, Aoife, Owen and Jenny. I don't know about the rest of them but for me, it was pure unadulterated joy. Go see this movie.


What to talk about? Oooh! Comics.

I've spent the last hour watching TED talks and playing Solitaire on my iPod rather than write anything. That's a bad habit. I will break it.

Yesterday was Wednesday so let's talk about comics.

Thanks to Comixology I can buy all the comics I want and not fill any space in my room (Very dangerous). Here's what I bought:

Action Comics #9:
Grant Morrison wrote a story about the Superman of Earth 23, who's black and the president of the US but not Obama. It's an idea he's had before that's he's now expanding on. At first I wasn't sure why he was focusing on another Superman in the middle of his brand new origin but I figure he's saying something about the universality of the Superman idea no matter the context. But hey, smarter people have tried to figure out Grant Morrison. I just like the stories he tells. (That sounds reductive. Maybe I'll think harder next time.)

Avengers vs X-Men #3:
This is a pretty good book considering it's a Marvel summer event and written by committee. The character motivations make sense. I'm enjoying where it's going. Yay!

Defenders #6:
This is Matt Fraction writing Iron Fist. I love Matt Fraction writing Iron Fist, especially as it delves into the history of the last Iron Fist, Orson Randall. Fraction's going for big things here with the concordance engines and those little meta-text subtitles at the bottom of the pages (the ones that aren't ads). Again I want to see where this goes.

Uncanny X-Force #lots:
The last thing here is Rick Remender's Uncanny X-Force. I haven't caught up on this yet but it's now all up on Comixology and I'm making my way through it. Looks good so far.

Hmmm. Not a lot of negativity there, but then again I don't read or watch many things I don't like. I'm just weird like that.

Oh yeah. This thing.

So then. Today is the first of May. And not just that.

It also happens to have been the last day of my exams (I've been doing a course in Computer Maintenance) so I have a bit of free time. And I figure what better way to spend my new-found extra hours than to revive the blog, or at least attempt to resuscitate it.

So over the next few weeks I'll try to blog more regularly. I've a few ideas for posts but nothings coming to me today (might have something to do with those four celebratory pints of Miller I had after the last exam).

I'll work something out for tomorrow.

Harry Potter and the Thing that Sounds like Azkaban

It's a blizzard, 'Arry
This is my favourite one so far.

Prisoner of Azkaban is directed by Alfonso Cuarón and I have loved every film of his I've seen. This is the man who directed Children of Men and Y tu mamá también. Everything about the wizarding world is more magical and otherworldly. There are classes that are in the film just to show what Hogwarts classes are like (and to build up the threat of Harry being stalked by Comissioner Gordon Sirius) rather than teaching Chekhov's spells (which I suppose technically comes under the category of Chekhov's Lecture). The Knight Bus sequence alone was stranger than anything in the previous two movies in which, I'll remind you, Harry fought a giant snake! The quidditch matches look more real as opposed to having bendy dolls on brooms (although that could just be down to CG advances).

Some random points:
  • Dumbledore is doing well after his facelift. (Actually I should mention how brilliant Michael Gambon is. There's no Richard Harris impersonation here. Where Harris was quiet Gambon is far more brash and comedic. And I love it)
  • Ron is still the Butt Monkey but Draco and Harry give him a run for his money this time.
  • Drinking game ideas: When it's hinted that (Spoiler Warning) Lupin is a werewolf or hinted that Hermione has been (Another Spoiler Warning [although everyone who cares knows it now]) time travelling.
  • As if Hogwarts wasn't dangerous enough before now there are ghouls who eat your soul running around outside the grounds. Good thing all the parents signed the waiver.
Have I mentioned that Alan Rickman is fantastic. I should say it again. He is fantastic. Not only when Snape is finally teaching Defence Against the Dark Arts (and practically daring the students to uncover Lupin's secret) but in his confrontation with Mooney, Wormtail and Doctor Smith Padfoot at the end. I can't stress this enough, Alan Rickman is fascinating in every scene he's in.

Harry Potter and the Snake in the Drains

We watched Chamber of Secrets. Yay!


Here are some random thoughts based on us watching that selfsame movie.
  • Harry Potter is not able to lie. At all.
  • Ron lost his cockney accent, possibly in a game of wizard chess.
  • Apparently Dumbledore watches Harry while he sleeps.
  • Dobby says Hogwarts is more dangerous than usual. That can't be good. Dumbledore heard of health & safety but thought it was one of those indie bands.
  • Drinking game idea: Every time someone says Harry Potter. Also any time Harry is compared to his father or is told he has his mother's eyes. Warning: This may lead to alcohol poisoning.
  • Dumbledore sure does have a lot of contingency plans. I swear he's read the books.
  • Ron is the movie's official butt monkey, with Malfoy coming a close second.
  • Not as much Snape action this time but Alan Rickman is still fantastic. Especially when talking to Lockheart.

Well at least I didn't use a spoon.

Penknives and Potter

Yesterday was a day for consumption of media. Also shopping. But that's not much fun to blog about. Well not when you're as tired as I was. All this is beside the point.

Ciaran recently bought a MacGyver box-set. The complete series. One hundred and thirty nine episodes and two made-for-TV movies. And it's fantastic.
We watched the first disc, which, incidentally, has a picture of duct tape on it, and it's amazing. MacGyver defuses a bomb in the first five minutes of the pilot, with a paper-clip. He rescued a horse from it's captors via a helicopter with a sky hook. He makes tear gas out of alcohol and ashes. He has 101 uses for a map. And he took part in a chase that had no resemblance at all to The Italian Job.

It was the best thing I watched all day and don't forget that yesterday Rupert Murdoch got hit in the face with a pie.

And then later we watched Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. We in this case was Ciaran, Aoife, Eoin, Rog and myself. Seen as the last movie is out we decided to watch them all in order before seeing number seven part 2. Among the things we observed were:
  • Everyone is so young. Look at those tiny kids!
    Harry Potter and the Eventual Hormones
  • Drinking game idea: Every time Hagrid says "I shouldn't have told you that."
  • Damn that movie is long. Two hours and twenty seven minutes.
  • The CG people on broomsticks are more bendy than Stretch Armstrong.
  • Malfoy has every right to be pissed off at the end of the movie. Dumbledore just pulls points out of nowhere at the last banquet. Joe Dunn sums that up here.
  • Aoife thinks Hogwart's is so dangerous because it's a method of wizard population control.
Alan Rickman enjoys every scene he's in. Every scene.Alas, your Mr. Takagi did not see it that way... so he won't be joining us for the rest of his life.
Look at that grin. Pure Joy.

Next time: The Chamber of Secrets

Google Verb

Based on an old vlogbrothers video and in lieu of actual content I will Google my name and a verb and comment on the results. One of these days actual content may happen. Stay tuned.
Also hover your mouse on the links. I'm trying something.

Alan needs ... a new pair of shorts. [1]
I can't really agree with Google here. I rarely wear shorts [2] and the pair I have are in good condition. I think I win this one. Even though it's not a competition.

Alan looks like ... someone who skinned some guy and is wearing the face

I think I'll let this one stand on its own.

Alan says ... in The Hangover
Google, this is not a complete sentence. Naughty Google.
The top result is "Every line Alan says in The Hangover". Now I haven't seen it but seen as we share a name he must be really cool and inspirational and witty to have people searching the internet for his every word.
What's that? He's Zach Galifianakis's character.
And in the third one he's in a mental home.
Great.

Alan wants ... to be a rockstar
This is a video of a Claymation Tyrannosaurus named Alan singing to Nickleback's song Rockstar.
He seems quite passionate about it. Too bad he can't play guitar with those tiny arms. That really puts a damper on his career.[3] Also putting a damper on his career; extinction.

Alan does ... n't understand her
First line of a song called Chocolate Girl by Deacon Blue (who I remember for this). The titular Alan sounds like a jerk.[4]

Alan hates ... Stevia Soda
Alan is quite passionate on this topic but doesn't offer much in the way of constructive criticism. At least it's not killing him like Splenda is.

Alan asks ... Monica out to dinner
A clip recorded on VHS of US soap General Hospital. I was kind of hoping for something better here. I can't even tell which one is Alan. Well not from the audio anyway. The description for the video goes into so much detail about the plot that I'm pretty sure what's going on.
The best part?
"They discuss Tiffany, who was poisoned by evil Faison with deadly virus. Faison uses virus to control Tiffany's husband, Sean Donely, by giving Sean monthly antidote for Tiffany."
I now have a replacement for my Coronation Street addiction. Even at his worst Richard never gave Ashley monthly antidotes for the crowbar he poisoned[5] Maxine with.

Alan likes ... movies
Well I say movies but the only one he posted about is Inglourious Basterds. It got three out of fours stars. I hope he updates more. I hate it when people don't update their blog.[6]

Alan eats ... fruity pebbles
And without milk. Because of his lactose intolerance. Personally I would have opted for a non-cereal-type foodstuff. Sooooo dry.

Alan wears ... school uniform[7]
Another clip from a soap. This time from Home and Away. And while the clip is more interesting than "Alan asks Monica out to dinner" it doesn't top bending someone to your will via the distribution of doses of antidote.

Alan was arrested for ... selling drugs and sentenced to 15 years to-life in a maximum-security prison.
Luckily for Alan Gompers his arrest led to a spiritual awakening and a change of life.

Here however someone else was playing the same game and hit paydirt.
Alan was arrested for killing Hobos. Since no one cares about Hobos, they gave him 30 days probation and sent him on his way.

Alan was arrested for being unlawfully in an enclosed yard.

Alan was arrested for having a joint

Alan was arrested for kicking a German staff car and only released after he convinced the Gestapo that he was English.
I was unlawfully enclosed in a yard once. I say yard. It was a bathroom. And I say unlawfully but it was more like the lock broke.

Alan loves ... girls.
More accurately alanlovesgirls.com. Unfortunately the website is down. Alan may have loved girls but not enough to keep up payments on the domain name that professed it.

What a pity this has ended on a sad note. I need a little something to cheer me up. I'm thinking more General Hospital plot summaries.
One of these storylines involved the culmination of the feud between the Spencer and Cassadine families, a storyline which had begun in 1981 when Luke and Laura infamously defeated Mikkos Cassadine's weather machine and had been revived in 1996. The storyline (dubbed as 'Endgame'), called for Mikkos's widow, Helena to revive her dead son Stavros (who had been frozen through the use of cryogenics, and threaten the Spencers and the rest of Port Charles with a bio-toxin.
If this plot appeared anywhere outside a comic no one would believe it.
I have a new favourite show.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
[1] Technically the first result was a Facebook page for Alan Needs but where's the humour there?
[2] Because my legs are an unholy shade of pale. And pretty hairy.
[3] But apparently not his ability to upload Youtube videos.
[4] Also a tit. Ha ha. Wordplay.
[5] Poisoned. Hit repeatedly over the head with. They're pretty much the same thing.
[6] *sound of crickets chirping*
[7] Not counting the phone listings for twelve different Alan Wears. Silly Google. That's a noun, not a verb.

In which pressing questions are answered

It's becoming clear to me that I have a tone I like to have for these blog posts. Levity. I've been trying to write a slightly more serious post (not too serious, it's about Doctor Who) and failing for about a month. So lets go for some fun instead by answering random questions. Yay!

What curse word do you use the most?
Feck. I'm not big on swearing because it ruins my good natured facade totally real persona.

Do you own an iPod?
Yes. It's an iPod touch and it's called Ziggy; partly because of Bowie and my favourite Guitar Hero song, mostly because of Quantum Leap.

Who on your MySpace "Top 8" do you talk to the most?
I remember MySpace. I had like five friends on it because everyone (myself included) was on Bebo (now a barren post apocalyptic wasteland where the survivors escaped to the promised land of the Book of Faces). Anyway of those five I'm currently living with one of them so lets go with Ciarán. He'll be thrilled.

What time is your alarm clock set for?
5 a.m.This is hilarious to anyone who knows me, I'm sure. It's not switched on and the reason it's set that early was so I could catch a flight. Four weeks ago. I'm lazy.

What colour is your room?
White. Boring, plain old white. My last room was an awesome lilac colour that Dulux called Ceol. Because music is purple.

Flip flops or sneakers?
Runners. Flip flops are a no-no for me due to the way I walk meaning I always get wacked in the heel. Then the flip flop fecks off.

Would you rather take the picture or be in the picture?
Be in the picture. At one point I doubted I was in Athboy Macra at all because I was never in pictures. Or maybe I'm invisible.

What was the last movie you watched?
Cinema: Kung Fu Panda 2
At home: Literally just finished watching Thunderball. Sooooo many underwater scenes. Also I'm pretty sure they killed a shark.

Do any of your friends have children?
A few. I'm not at that point in life where all my friends are having babies. Unless they're secret babies. I'm pretty sure Paddy has a secret baby hidden somewhere.

Has anyone ever called you lazy?
I did. Six questions ago. Keep up.

Do you ever take medication to help you fall asleep faster?
I'm pretty capable of falling asleep on my own. Also I can't swallow tablets so that would likely just keep me awake longer.

What CD is currently in your CD player?
None. It's 2011. MP3's are where it's at. Stupid decade old survey.

Do you prefer regular or chocolate milk?
I'd let regular and chocolate duke it out while strawberry milk and I abscond to have secret babies.

Has anyone told you a secret this week?
No. But there's still time. Hurry, people. A new week is nearly upon us.

Have you ever given someone a hickey?
A gentleman never tells. Which is a way of saying no, or so I'm told.

Who was the last person to call you?
Sandy Gallagher. She asked if she could borrow a cup of Playstation controller. I graciously allowed this. Took ages to find a cup it fit in.

Do you think people talk about you behind your back?
Sure they do. Whenever I'm not around people say "Where's Alan?" and talk about how awesome I am.

Did you watch cartoons as a child?
Not much.
I watched Batman, Spider-man, Animaniacs, Tiny Toon Adventures, Doug, Freakazoid, The Raccoons, X-Men, Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Hulk, Batman Beyond, Count Duckula, Captain Planet, The Flintstones, Wacky Races, Scooby Doo, Popeye, Casper, Chip & Dale Rescue Rangers, Tale Spin, Duck Tales, The Simpsons, Earthworm Jim, Dexter's Laboratory, Power Puff Girls, Freakazoid, Garfield, Aladdin, Dumb & Dumber, Two Stupid Dogs, Bananaman, Gargoyles, Biker Mice from Mars, Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles, Cadillacs & Dinosaurs, The Real Ghostbusters, The Tick, Sharky & George, Rugrats, Hey Arnold, I.M. Weasel, James Bond Jnr., Inspector Gadget, The Mask, Mr Men, Phantom 2040, Reboot, Pink Panther and Rocko's Modern Life.
But not all at once.

How many siblings do you have?
Two. One of each, both younger. Although my sister has just gallivanted off to England so under Macra rules she's M.I.A.

Are you shy around the opposite sex?
Not especially.

What movie do you know every line to?
None, really, not one. I don't watch my favourite movies often enough to know them word for word. Maybe I should fix this. Fetch my Scott Pilgrim vs. The World DVD.

Do you own any band t-shirts?
Two. Both Muse. I bought a pretty cool purple Coldplay one but it turned out to be a ladies size so Sarah has it now. It accentuated bits I haven't got.
A better question would be do I own any nerdy t-shirts? Or even better, do I own any regular t-shirts?

What is your favourite salad dressing?
Caesar. I looove Caesar salad. Especially with Cajun chicken. I've only ever had one bad Caesar salad and that place wasn't good for much food anyway. It wasn't the salad's fault. I blame the chef. Too fond of the dressing if you get my drift.

Do you read for fun?
Always. Reading is always fun. I can't remember a time where I couldn't read. It borders on obsession. Signs, cereal boxes, pamphlets, t-shirts, instruction manuals. All must be read.

Do you cry a lot?
I do get teary eyed at the end of movies. Because I'm a wuss.

Who was the last person to text message you?
Last person was Anna. She wanted me to cover her shift. I assume someone else did or else I'm in trouble.

Do you have a desktop computer or a laptop?
Laptop. It's called Hex for reasons far nerdier than Ziggy. And that's pretty nerdy as it is.

Are you currently wanting any piercings or tattoos?
I hate needles. Hate. Both those things involve needles. I think you can make the connection.

What is the weather like?
Slightly overcast, no wind to speak of. But enough idle chit chat. More questions.

Would you ever date someone covered in tattoos?
Are they a nice person? If so, yes.

Is sex before marriage wrong?
I don't think so. Whatever two consenting adults get up to behind closed doors etc. etc.

When was the last time you slept on the floor?
Few days ago. What are you, my mum? Is that what all the questions are about?

How many hours of sleep do you need to function?
Eight. But I can get by on less with lots of coffee.

Are you in love or lust?
Neither right now. Sadface.

Are your days full and fast-paced?
Not at all. They're quite laid back right now.

Do you pay attention to calories on the back of packages?
Very rarely. I'm not a weight watching guy. Far too skinny for it.

How old will you be turning on your next birthday?

25. I'll have to do something special for it.

Are you picky about spelling and grammar?
Quite picky but I don't often point it out. Right now Sarah is calling shenanigans. Which shows what she knows.

Have you ever been to Six Flags?
I've barely explored this continent let alone America.

Do you get along better with the same or opposite sex?
The same, I think. I don't really judge that. I usually either keep quiet or ramble about nonsense to everyone.

Do you like cottage cheese?
I wouldn't go out of my way to have it, but I wouldn't burn it at the stake either. I'd prefer cream cheese. Or rice pudding. With strawberry milk.

Do you sleep on your side, tummy, or back?
Side and back. Especially my right side. I've got a pain in my shoulder from it.

Have you ever bid for something on eBay?
A few things. A game for Eoin's Santa present one year (that turned out to only work in America), some Guitar Hero controllers that weren't incredibly sturdy and a present for Sarah that the owner couldn't ship to Ireland. Maybe I'll be luckier next time.

Do you enjoy giving hugs?
Damn right I do. What's not to like about hugs?

What song did you last sing out loud?
Ashes to Ashes by David Bowie. Because it's awesome and because I'm working my way through the Ashes to Ashes box set right now.

What is your favourite TV show?
Doctor Who. So much. It's the show that can go anywhere, do anything and meet anyone. Except Noddy.

Which celebrity, dead or alive, would you want to have lunch with?
Terry Pratchett. He'd have such interesting stories to tell.

Last time you had butterflies in your stomach?
Friday, when I went for a mysterious trip involving a suit.

What one thing do you wish you had?
Would it be too vulgar to say money? I'm kinda broke right now. That or some sort of lady friend.

Favorite lyrics?
Judging by the most played songs on my iPod that's either Knights of Cydonia by Muse or Shut Up and Let Me Go by The Ting Tings. I'm going to throw Life on Mars? in there too. It's very purple.

Come back next time when I might have something to say. Who knows?

In which our protagonist faces a turn of events

Over a month ago I received an email from Ciaran. Which is an unusual occurrence as we mostly talk by twitter, facebook, text or (occasionally) face to face like normal human beings. But not email.

The email contained a picture of a unicorn, at night, in the snow and John Cusack's face superimposed over a crescent moon. In short it was awesome.

Awesome!

The email also had a listing for an apartment on daft. It was just down the road and pretty affordable. And Ciaran wanted to get it.
And we did.
He arranged the viewing for the next day, it looked good and we got it. A week and a half later we moved in.

This is something we had been idly discussing for about a year but nothing serious ever came out of it for one reason or another. Until now. Now it had happened because there was nothing to get in our way. It was a runaway train on a collision course with maturity. It was change. And change is scary so I usually avoid it wherever possible.

I see what you did there, Mister Lucas. Preying on my well know love of unicorns and John Cusack movies you lulled me into a false sense of security and lowered the trap. A gilded cage filled with independence and adult responsibility and a Playstation 3. Just know that as I play Assassin's Creed late into the night that the face of my every victim is that of my captor.

On the plus side I finally have a bookcase that fits all my books.


Not pictured: Bottom shelf containing more stuff; money all this must have cost me

Fighting Blank White Space

So I haven't written in forever.
It's my own fault and I won't get into why. (The no whining on the blog policy remains intact. Mostly.)
It's not just the blog. My twitter and facebook have been pretty dormant recently. I set up a tumblr too (Trilbies are cool) but it's also lying fallow. Partly due to limited internet after the move. (I moved. That's a thing. Maybe a post too. No promises.)
And partly due to me.
I've gotten too insular.
That will be remedied.
Eventually.

Actually, here's a thing. Challenge me.
Give me a thing to write about and I'll give it a shot.
Could be fun.

At risk from vampires

Last week, I decided to be a good person (a decision I struggled with for a good second or so) and donate blood.

This is a story of why I can't.

Short version: I'm a wuss.

So I walk to the Darnley, where the temporary blood bank is set up. On the way there I bump into Amy, because it appears that none of my stories is complete without her involvement (and I have another one lined up).

I get to the hotel and sign up. Well there's a guy with a computer who takes your details and asks why you didn't go when they were in DCU, even though you never remember hearing about that. Or maybe that's just for me.

Then there's the form. It asks questions like "Do you have AIDS?", "Seriously, do you have AIDS?", and "Do you have a mutant healing factor like Wolverine because that'd really help".

Next you put the form in a box and a nurse brings you to a closed off area where they repeat every question on the form to try and catch you out. I responded in my usual courteous manner.

"For the last time, I don't have AIDS, I've never juggled used needles and my only mutant power is the ability to spontaneously create five euro notes!"

My X-men name is Cuig.

Now we get to the crux of the tale, namely the reason why I donations of the sanguine variety are not my bag, baby.

I should mention at this point that I'm pretty squeamish. I don't watch horror movies and although House is one of my favourite shows I can't watch any of the surgery scenes without looking away.

But I don't faint at the sight of blood, so the next part confuses me.

I get taken to another closed off area where another nurse performs an iron test. In theory. Se pricks my finger and puts some blood on a slide. Then she asks me how I feel. I say "My stomach feels a bit wobbly", which it does. From nerves.

To be fair to her I can't blame her for jumping to the conclusion she did. Nervousness is not immediately obvious from that sentence, even though I didn't realise it at the time. In the past I've used it to mean anything from "I'm full" to "I'm about to throw up".

Immediately I'm calmly told to lie on the ground. She's a nurse and the guide that came with the form said that if you're nervous the nurses will help you out. Another other nurse (Sorry, I didn't get any names. Feel free to name her yourself. Veronica's a good choice.) brings me a spongy pillow thing to rest my head and a glass of water. I drink.

After about three minutes, and a bit of condescension from Nurse 1 ("Maybe you're not cut out for this") Nurse 2 and new Nurse 4 (there were like 10 of them. It's almost like you need a large team to take blood or something) bring me to one of the beds to rest. For about an hour, with intermittent visits, glasses of water, occasional offers of crisps and several comments that my computer screen tanned face looks very sickly. Any points to the contrary were met with more concern:
"Honestly I'm fine. I'm always quite pale."
"You say that, but you're very white."
Then it's recommended that I lie down again.

As they're starting to close up Nurse 7 (or possibly 8) asks if I live far and if there's anyone I can ring to pick me up. I've quit trying to convince them so I phone Mum. I'm escorted out in case, I don't know, maybe in case I see one of the blood packs and faint. I'm given a handful of pencils as I leave.

Tangent:
Dad used to give blood regularly. He'd usually come back with a black and red striped pencil that read "The owner is a donor". I'd bring them to school occasionally and feel slightly guilty because the pencils were a blatant lie. But then again I had a pen that said "Ní scríobhann ann peann seo ach Gaeilge" and would test that out quite regularly. The important thing is that these were not those pencils.

These pencils were blue. And they all had a blood type on them. The same blood type.


B negative.

So now I'm left writing my X-men fanficiton.

But the bouncer refused to let Cyclops into the Parisian chapter of the Hellfire Club. He struggled to decide what his next option should be.
"Hmmm, I could use my optic blasts, the power of which can only be contained by my visor's ruby quartz lenses, but the Professor taught us to only use violence as a last resort."
Suddenly, a moment of realisation dawned.
"Cuig, make fivers appear until this man lets us in!"
"Yes sir!"

He should probably upgrade

So, funny story.
Last Sunday I was working (quelle surprise) in the function room after the bar had closed. So far, so usual.
It's four o'clock or thereabouts and I'm pretty tired. So tired, in fact, that I'm hyper.
A guy comes up to me and asks for a drink. I tell him the bar is closed.
"Any chance of some water then," he asks.
"There's every chance of some water," I grin with a smile that's probably far too big for that hour of the morning. "Do you just want water or would you want to be a bit more adventurous and make it fruity?"
"Just water will be fine," he replies, smiling back. See if you can guess where this is going yet.
So I give him the water and he says something to the effect of "You're a pretty cool guy". I don't deny this because I've been brought up to support the truth. Then he asks "Where do you usually go out?" to which I reply "Well I don't get to go out much." He looks at me quizzically. I explain "Because I work here and -"
"How long have you been gay?"
"Well, um, zero. I mean, I'm not."
"I didn't mean to offend you it's just -"
"I'm not offended. I'm just not."
At this point Amy, who'd been behind the bar with me, washing glasses said "Did he just say -?"
"He did."
Amy starts laughing. She doesn't stop. At all. I start to worry if she'll run out of air. I'm guessing that even now, a whole six days later, she's still smiling.
So the guy leaves with his water, highly embarrassed. Amy's laughing and telling every staff member she can find. And I'm laughing too, trying to figure out how he thought this. I eventually resort to that one episode of Friends. You know the one.

Damn, I have no idea how to end this.
Um...
The end.
Yeah, that works.
Classic. :)

Back, with thanks to a dark ritual.

Lets see what the blog's like.
Oh.
Oh, my.
Is that blood?
And some sort of forest? At least I hope those are trees. And the spiders seem to have formed their own society.
Well, I suppose I'll have to live with it.

So yeah, there's a year or so missing here. Stuff happened. I'll move on and we'll all learn a valuable lesson. That being spiders really like it when you pat their head.

Trek Fest: Day 1


Let me take a minute to blow the cobwebs off the blog.
*Pufffff*
Done.

So lately I've partaken in a Star Trek movie marathon. Well less a marathon and more a race similar to the Tour De France (multiple stages over several days). Allow me to summarise my experience.

Stage 1 - Saturday 21st March : Star Trek - The Motion Picture

Participants: Al, Ciaran, Aoife and Little Dave (for 5 minutes)

Summary:
Nothing happens.

Seems the producers saw Star Wars and 2001 and noted a common link, slow motion shots of spaceships. The alleged plot is that a mysterious cloud (called V'Ger) is heading for Earth to meet its creator, which it believes is an AI. Meanwhile the crew of the Enterprise reunite and are sent to intercept the cloud and save Earth in their shiny new spaceship and horrible new uniforms. Turns out the cloud contains a ship which was made from the Voyager 6 probe that was given intelligence after landing on a planet of intelligent machines.
New crew member Will Decker convinces V'ger not to destroy Earth and that humans created it. Then they merge together in a shiny light and go... somewhere.
The End.

Thoughts:
  • We finally get the Kirk/Spock slash fics.
  • It's not a good movie if you spend the whole time talking about other movies.
  • When Ciaran left the room (about an hour and a half into the movie) plot occurred. I believe Ciaran was intimidating the plot so it hid until he left.
  • Dave decided immediately that he hated the movie. He was not proven wrong.
  • Owen was meant to watch with us but mysteriously decided to cook lasagna instead. I smell shenanigans. Shenanigans and lasagna.

Memories of Cyprus

I went on holidays in Cyprus with Dom and Chris.
These are my recollections.

Heat.
Drunken Uno.
Lots of Black Russians.
Dom's inability to say "No".
Chris's inability to stop giggling.
My inability to stop the heat.
Dune buggy!
Water parks need to be closer to Aiya Napa.
So many novelty bars.
So little local food.
Everyone speaks English.
A flight delayed for two days.
Staying in the Nicosia Hilton.
Finally getting home.

Mass

I was early for mass today.
I was there half an hour early and got to experience a semi-forgotten tradition , the rosary.
For those unaware or who have forgotten, the rosary is performed like this:
Firstly the person leading the rosary says the first half of the Hail Mary in their best dalek voice. Next all other people in the room say the second half of the Hail Mary as quickly, quietly and incoherently as possible.
This is repeated 50 times, interspersed with an Our Father and a nice little prayer asking Jesus to save us all from Hell every 10 Hail Marys.
After all this monotony is one Hail Holy Queen, also spoken like a dalek or mumbled depending on who you are.

I don't think I'll be early for mass for a while.

Right, I'd better go study.