Month: November 2005

Closely Cropped

Do you shave? If so, what do you use? Wet or dry? Two blades, three blades, five?? Electric or manual?

I’ve been a wet shaver for years now, two blades and a little shaving oil is plenty for me to whisk away those annoying (for the wife) bristles. I keep missing the bit in the middle of my chin though, odd that.

Back in the day I had an electric foil razor and it was pretty handy for a quick once over, just enough to make you presentable for another day at the grindstone. I’m not entirely sure why I stopped using it, but I’m guessing it would be around the time I grew my goatee (or soul patch as some people inaccurately call it).

Anyway, I have a quick question for those that use an electric razor. I’m looking for a comparison between a Philishave (three rotating heads) razor and a foil razor. Good? Bad? Any specific things to be wary of?

FYI – I rarely cut myself wet shaving, and don’t suffer from overly sensitive skin or razor rash, but sometimes a wet shave is just a little too demanding of my time in the morning. I’m guessing that, long-term, it’ll save me a little money as well, those razor blades are chuffing expensive!

So it’s over to you dear reader. You have a chance to influence my Christmas present, so be nice!

It's the blind man*

Visited my Gran on Saturday mainly to help my parents put up a new set of blinds in her bedroom, having replaced the kitchen set last week. As usual it turned out to be a bit of a marathon job – having to remove a wooden baton, cut the blinds to size and so on – so it was four hours later when we left. Still it was a good excuse to get a Chinese meal ordered…

My Gran is still doing OK, despite her neck being ‘fixed’ at a 90° angle, limiting her view dramatically but she seems to be coping. This is probably due to the fact that she has home help visitors everyday (apart from the days she tells them “not to bother with me”) but I’m sure her standard of life would be much better if she moved into a retirement home… big step that one though.

Didn’t really talk with her much on Saturday but we did have a nice chat on Thursday evening, letting my Gran ramble on about how she’d been through worse times than this, times when she didn’t think she’d come out the other end, and a “silly wee fall” (which was about 5 years ago by my reckoning) wasn’t going to stop her. She talked about my Grandpa, who she cared for as long as I can remember after he had a series of strokes left him paralysed and about how she once had to call the police as she couldn’t get him out of the bath; my Gran was always stick thin, my Grandpa enjoyed his food and I reckon there was at least 6 stone weight difference between them. I honestly don’t know how she managed.

She talked about how she’s gotten new exercises to help with her balance and how nice the therapist that came to see her was, particularly as she was able to tell her that whilst she may be getting on these days, she’s been making cups of tea for 80 years and didn’t need anyone telling her how to do that (I had no idea tea was the last bastion of the infirm but, from the tone in my Gran’s voice when she re-told that conversation, it’s obviously a key issue). She also mentioned the lovely nurse who changed the bandages on her legs this week, and who gave them a wee rub to help the circulation. Apparently it felt “better than sex”…

She rattled off her list of weekly visitors – carers, home help, dentist, doctor, hairdresser, chiropodist and a few others – and how Chrissy from Frasers (where my Gran has shopped for decades) phoned her to check she didn’t need any more makeup. I found myself both uplifted that she is still able to hold a conversation and in parts find myself downhearted that she’s grabbing onto these things so desperately. It’s more up than down though. What other way is there?

We also chatted about how she felt about moving into sheltered housing, a touchy subject at the best of times.

My Gran’s an independent old soul, fiercely proud and bloody minded if she wants to be, but these last few months she’s aged dramatically and I think she is beginning to realise how much my Mum worries about her. She said that there was no mad dash and that she wasn’t sure she could handle another move at the moment and that she’s getting on fine at home. I think she is more worried about what it would signify than any of the practicalities or the emotions attached to moving away from her home town. In her eyes it’s the last lap, the final residence, no wonder it’s such a hard step to take.

Then she started talking about how happy she was at home, and that sometimes you just have to face up to things, to the realities of your situation.

It’s most odd hearing someone you love so dearly talk about the end of their life. She was quite frank about it and quite happy that she’s had a good life and that everyone has to go at some point… she paused at that point, faltered slightly and you could almost see the fight inside her ignite, the glint of steely stubborn jarring home.

Ohh she’ll be around for a while yet, there’s still a spark of life, and yes I’m aware that I’m projecting my own feelings and wishes into my interpretation of what she said but, in her own words:

“I’m a stubborn old bitch”

That you are Gran, but I still love you.

* You know the joke: “A nun is taking a bath when someone knocks at the door. She asks who it is, and the person says, ‘The blind man.’ So she lets him come into the bathroom. The man enters the room and says, ‘Nice tits. Where do you want me to put the blinds?’ ” Not my favourite nun joke though, I prefer: “Two nuns are taking a bath. One asks, ‘Where’s the soap?’ The other one says, ‘It does, doesn’t it?’ “.

Why re-design?

Written several weeks ago, thought I’d just post it and get it out of the way.

Yes, I’ve done it again, killed my “brand look” and gone for something different. However there is a good reason behind this… no, honestly, there is!

First up I should maybe take a moment to explain one of the reasons behind the OLD design. Remember those, slightly too large post headings? ALL CAPS and very prominent on the page. Well the reason behind them was two-fold.

  • They marked the beginning of a new post – nothing I hate more than scrolling down a page and not being entirely sure where one post ends and another begins.
  • The main reason was that they were supposed to make me think about my posts, to consider what I was writing a little more than usual as there was no hiding place for a “silly wee post”.

A lot of my posts start out as one idea, one line, one thought. Others, the ones which are reporting on real life are a lot easier to write, but the “one idea” posts have always been something I enjoyed doing but too often I’d give up on them. Having such large obvious post headers was my way of trying to lend the posts some gravitas and, hopefully, influence my writing/thinking about posts.

And some people say design isn’t important! Sheesh.

On to the new design then, and one key change is the size of the miniblog. I swithered over this for a while but thought I’d at least give it a bash – the other option is to ditch it and have “link dump” posts every now and again in the main column – and see how it works.

The idea is that the main column, where you are reading at the moment, will hold the posts that I’ve given some consideration. The miniblog (on the left) will be slightly expanded as I often felt a little cramped when writing posts for it previously.

I don’t have a set rule but I wouldn’t expect the miniblog posts to be much longer than they are at the moment, and I don’t expect I’ll be posting the main column, “longer” pieces, as often. The key reason behind the latter decision were the posts I published whilst we were away on holiday in July. They were all written in advance, edited and re-worked and published with a gap of a day or two between them. Not sure about you but I certainly felt that they were some of my better posts, they certainly gathered some excellent comments.

To summarise – longer posts in the main column, shorter posts/links in the miniblog. Simple.

The rest of the design followed on from that decision. I didn’t want to lose the miniblog too far down the page, so shifted the navigation up to the top of the page, losing a few of the options on the way.

There are still a few things I’d like to do but the LOOK won’t change for a while.

To tag or not to tag

I’m bored with this whole tagging thing now. Yes it’s useful. No it’s not the be all and end all. Yes it has limitations. No it’s not the only way to navigate information. Yes I will continue to use them. No I won’t be posting about it after this.

You see, to my mind at least (and therein lies a limitation) it’s very simple.

Authors (the people who write the information and understand the information they are creating) “INDEX” what they have written (indexing is an art form in itself with books devoted to this one topic). An index is hard to maintain and relies on structure and consistency.

Authors and readers tag a post/site as they desire with the hope that someone else at some point will think the way they did and find the information that way. Tagging is easy to maintain as it’s free-form and doesn’t require consistency.

In addition the site owner should implement other hierarchical systems to find the information (date or topic/category for example).

Mash them all up and you have a fairly standard methodology with the only new bit being the free-form tags. Most people will use the “index” or just search the text on the site, presuming they haven’t arrived directly at a post from a link.

Yes?

Right. Can we please put this to bed now. It’s becoming increasingly dull.

Empty Recycle Bin

Excuse me, but I really need to get all this stuff out of my head.

  • Hot feet – every morning when I come into work I follow the same routine. Turn on the PC, login to email, scan the subject lines and then grab a coffee. Every morning I end up feeling too hot and find that only taking my shoes off helps. Just me?
  • iTunes – why won’t you delete files from my PC anymore? I know I shouldn’t have selected to ‘never display this confirmation again’ but I thought you’d be nice enough to allow me to turn on that prompt again. But no, you seem to be in the huff which is a pity as we were getting on so well…
  • Time flies – except it doesn’t. It’s only that as you grow older you notice it is advancing, you are too busy as a kid to care.
  • Football – Man Utd take on Chelsea on Sunday, I’ll be watching. Someone recently mentioned that I don’t talk about football much so I’ll be addressing that notion soon.
  • Windows XP/NeoWin MultiPatcher – OK. I’ll start with XP, I gave you your upgrade to SP2 (finally), and it was fine. Everything still works, except for the NeoWin Patch (for those that don’t know, the NeoWin patch allows you to apply 3rd party styles to Windows XP, same as StyleXP without the resource overhead or monetary impact). I’ve installed it, restarted, double-clicked this, sworn at that and bang the desk like a petulant child. Why won’t you work?
  • BUZZ – visited my Gran last night and noticed that her wee portable stereo was buzzing very loudly (so loudly that she had noticed as well, saying something as she’s increasingly becoming deaf). It was turned off, so I unplugged it and told her I’d get her a new one. Double checked it at home and there was no noise at all. Most odd. Could it be the power socket?
  • Sod and his laws – Autoglass are coming on Sunday to replace the windscreen (excess of £60) so it’s only natural that there is now a bump in the front wing (excess of £100).
  • Music – Aimee Mann has been dominating my playlist for the past week or so, with Joni Mitchell a close second. However I am really looking forward to Paul Anka’s Rock Swings album but I don’t know why. Ohh and the new Kate Bush album… yes… it is, isn’t it.

Busy weekend ahead for me, not least fixing a few oddities here and getting another website launched… somewhere else… it’s all about one man designs (and that’s all yer getting for the moment). I plan to get round ALL my favourite blogs as well, so make sure you have something interesting for me to read (I know, I know, pot… kettle.. etc etc).

And yes, I know this post looks funny in IE. Should be ok in other browsers though.

You've been framed

Given the events of the past few weeks our normally ‘minimal’ approach to having family photos on show has changed. Last night Louise and Susan went to IKEA and she came home with four lovely picture frames in a variety of styles. Tonight she picked out the photos, tomorrow I’ll print them out (after getting some decent photo paper).

Whilst it’s never bothered me that we didn’t really have photos on show, I have to admit that just having the frames sitting on our little sideboard is making the living room seem a lot more ‘homey’.

Now all we need to do is find a couple of prints (or maybe get a couple of photos enlarged) for the main wall above the fireplace and the room might, finally, feel complete. Ohh apart from the curtain rail I’ve never fitted on the back window… details, details.

Do you have many family photos on show?

Curse of the Were-Rabbit

Movie info from IMDB
Movie reviews from Metacritic

Cracking!

I should really leave it at that, shouldn’t I. After all if you don’t know who Wallace and Gromitt are then I have to ask where you’ve been hiding. Now, I’m pretty sure they are more popular in the UK, and given the focus on the more eccentric side of English culture (primarily) I do wonder how much translates around other parts of the world, but the simple fact is that the story is universal enough, and paced well enough that it doesn’t really matter where you are from, you should enjoy this movie.

So, the story then. Well let’s just say that is another of Wallace’s experiments gone wrong, includes bunny rabbits and a village’s annual vegetable competition (think ‘carrotts’) and you can see where a lot of the humour is derived from. Whilst not as well polished as a Pixar production, it’s still got plenty of laughs for the kids and their parents.

If you liked any of the previous Wallace and Gromitt movies you’ll love this. It’s relentless, silly, exciting and endearing all at the same time. But the thing I REALLY love about it is that you can, occasionally, see the odd thumbprint here and there. It’s a testament to the movie that it takes something like that to remind you that you are watching stop-frame animation of figures made of plasticine!

And so you're back…

… from outer space, I just walked in to find you here, with that sad look upon your face.

Ohh how eerily apt.

Yes, it’s November and yes, I’m back in blogland. Hello again. Remember me? I’ve not really been away completely, been reading and commenting occasionally but with a distinct lack of enthusiasm.

The reason for the PAUSE is in the post below.

Christ, now what.

I had a “coming back” post planned but it doesn’t feel right to try and recap what I’ve missed. I have a little text file with the following in it, so I’ll just copy and paste that here and be done with it:

Tumblelog, iPod Video, Flock, Saddam on trial, Wallace and Gromit (review to follow), and I missed out when the ever popular rebecca blood linked to my site (woulda been a nice traffic spike as well I’m sure).

And yes there is a new design. It’s been sitting for weeks now and I know there are a few glitches but I’ll get round to those at some point, let me know what you find.

It’s good to be back, but it’ll take me a wee while to get up a head of steam again. If at all. It’s taken me all night to write this post, god knows what it’ll take to… ach but we all know that no sooner will I have said that than I’ll be knocking up another post… I can feel one coming on already.

Enough rambling. I’m back. Did ya miss me?