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Archive for the category “Thoughts”

A Paucity of Postings

Despite the best of intentions, this week’s been quiet here on D4D™.

Mainly, it’s because I’ve been absolutely snowed under with work, including beating the living hell out of databases – and cursing the clowns that wrote Microsoft Access, which is what I’ve been taking data out of and putting into something decent. One of these days I’d like to meet the people who created it, and ask just what the fuck was going through their minds when they made certain decisions.

Along the way, there’s been a whole bundle of other stuff, insomnia and the like, and well, it’s just January.

I have a hard time with January, for some reason. It’s part of the reason I don’t really make New Year’s Resolutions, because I know I’m never good with the start of the year.  The thing is, I don’t really know why it’s such a tough one for me.

I’ve got my suspicions – and primarily it’s about preparation.

I know I get affected by autumn and winter, as the nights draw in and so on, and I can fight it for a long time. Then there’s the standard dislike of the Festering Season, which I’m ready for and can keep on fighting.  But now we’re through all that, the days are getting longer, and we’re through the whole Christmas period.

This is where (I suspect) my problems kick in – the days are still short, even if they’re lengthening. It’s just not doing so quickly enough. This week in particularly has been pretty much solidly grey and overcast, with little to no sunlight coming through. And I’m just tired, with no real energy for continuing to fight the whole Seasonal thing.

It leaves me flat, tired and uninspired. It shouldn’t, in all sense, but regardless, it does.

So yeah, this week’s been more about downtime, about being tired and grey, and not really in the mood for doing much. I’ve got a fair amount of stuff in the coming week as well, which will help. But this week’s been a flat and down one. Such is life, and all that rot.

2017 Inspirations – Photography

As things change for me in 2017 – well, as I do new stuff, or restart old stuff – I’m hoping/intending/planning to write more about it here on D4D as well, along with things about what’s driving those choices.  So there’s a new subject/category to cover it all.  And this is where it all starts.

As long-term readers know, I was into photography for a long time, did pretty well at it, and even ended up taking a course while I was in Norfolk in order to better understand what the hell I was trying to do.

But since Norfolk and Suffolk, I’ve been doing a lot less photography. Some of that is due to my mobile phone, where the pixel count is higher than the SLR I still have. It’s also about faff – lugging an SLR around for the day (particularly when doing anything else, like one of my idiotically long walks) is a hefty job anyway, and it’s simply never ready for a quick photo. Using the SLR is a much bigger commitment in many ways, and over the last four years, I really haven’t been making that commitment.

This year, I want to change that, and do more where I actually go out with the SLR, with the intention of taking photos.

The first real inspiration for that has been this story on the BBC, of Dean Saunderson’s photos of a deserted Nottingham on Christmas morning. It’s something that works for me, having been to many places at ungodly-o’clock, and seeing them with very few people around. Oxford, for example, is beautiful at 5am on a summer Sunday morning – and the same applies for many other cities. So this is a theme/topic/idea I could get into, and will probably have a few goes at over this year.

We’ll see at the end of the year how I do on these inspirations. It’s going to be a year where I (hopefully) figure out more about the things I want to continue doing, and which ones I’ll be happier to leave by the wayside in order to do other things.

Attention Span

Yesterday, there was a bundle of news coverage about Apple’s supposedly-upcoming “Cinema Mode” for iPhones and iPads as part of the next iOS release.

This will (again, supposedly) allow people in cinemas – and other darkened environments, one assumes – to check their phones without disturbing those around them, mainly through use of a ‘dark’ colour-scheme, so the display doesn’t glow like a lighthouse.

In fairness, this annoys me on a regular basis at the cinema – there’s always some fuckknuckle who wants to check stuff while ‘watching’ a film, leaving their phone’s volume up, or some other piece of vacuous self-centred idiocy. But really, a phone mode to cater for that?

It irritates me that so many people now seem to be utterly incapable of sitting for a couple of hours and watching a film. There’ve been a couple of films I’ve seen recently where it seemed like everyone else was eating popcorn (or sweets, or both) from rustling paper bags throughout the film, and/or then sodding off out to the toilet and whatever else.

As has been noted before, I really don’t understand people. I don’t get why someone would pay to see a film, spend even more on food and drink, then either not be able to sit through the film without breaks, or without checking their phones. If you’re going to do all that, why not wait til it comes out on disc/download/TV and watch at home, where you can pause, rewind etc., and not worry about missing bits while you go to drain your microscopic bladder?

Mind you, I also don’t understand why cinemas insist on putting all their food/refreshments in noisy paper bags. Surely there must be another option by now? A fabric version or similar? Or larger bags/tubs that allow hands in and out without touching the sides?

Beginnings

The first week of the year’s started well so far, with a fair amount of preparation being done for the rest of the year.

Among other things, I’ve signed myself up for a couple of training programmes for more technical stuff, as well as laying out some plans and concepts for the main development things I want to work on this year.  I’m currently hoping to have got at least one of them launched by the end of January, so I can see how it develops.

Along the way, I’ve figured out a couple of starting points for writing as well, which may or may not work out.

So it’s all a bit promising for now. We’ll see how it works out.

And not to be ignored, I’ve also started work on losing some of the weight I put on over December. It’s safe to say, I’m not overly happy with how much got put on (although I’m not back to where I started this time in 2016, so it could be worse) in the space of a month, but as we’re now back to a point where I can (and will) eat more sensibly again, it should all work out OK in the end.

Onwards and upwards, and all that piss.

More Posts in 2017?

One of my aims/hopes for 2017 is to write more stuff here.  It slackened off massively for a while, and I’ve never really got back to the same levels as back in the first few years. I’m not necessarily aiming to go back to those levels either, but it’d be nice to write more here, and it’ll be related to other stuff that’s planned, so it kind of makes sense.

As part of that though, I did wonder about my annual post counts, so through the wonders of databases, I came up with the following…

  • 2002 – 411 posts
  • 2003 – 987 posts – the busiest year
  • 2004 – 882 posts
  • 2005 – 950 posts
  • 2006 – 823 posts
  • 2007 – 666 posts – the year of the beast, obviously
  • 2008 – 491 posts
  • 2009 – 535 posts
  • 2010 – 362 posts
  • 2011 – 43 – all time low, for reasons known to regular readers
  • 2012 – 141 posts
  • 2013 – 245 posts
  • 2014 – 233 posts
  • 2015 – 179 posts
  • 2016 – 151 posts

I’m not disheartened by that – I know I’ve had other things going on in the last couple of years, and that 2016 in particular has been madly busy with stuff that I haven’t written a lot about, so it all works out somewhat.  And even then it still works out as about three posts a week, which isn’t abysmal.

We’ll see, come the end of the year, how things have gone.  But for now, the plan is to write more here, as well as elsewhere.

What’s The Plan?

And here we are, at the start of 2017. Didn’t that come round quickly?

As with previous years, I don’t really make resolutions. It’s all pretty arbitrary, the whole resolutions thing, so I usually choose to make plans from one birthday to the next, rather than the whole “January 1st is for new starts” cobblers.

This year, I’ve got some plans for 2017 as a whole though – although they’re not much different to what I’d laid out back in November.  However, in my head, I’ve laid some of these down as being “this year” instead. I don’t quite know why, but it’ll work for me.

So – what are they?  Well, in no particular order…

  • Finances
    • Add a significant amount into the savings
  • Work
    • Figure out what comes next after the current contract (I’m sure that’ll happen at some point in the coming year)
    • Learn some new stuff, because why not?
    • Launch at least one of the projects that’ve been in my head for way too long
  • Writing
    • Complete at least one of the screenplay ideas I’ve started in 2016
    • and then figure out what the hell to do with it/them
    • Complete a book idea I’ve got, and publish it (for Kindle)
  • Health
    • Lose weight (I’ve put some on over the Festering Season, and want to lose that, plus a bit more)
    • Do some training/practice walks for that walking marathon in September
    • and then complete it on the day

And really that’s it. There might be a couple of other projects along the way, but that’s the main objectives, all in one place.

Whether or not they happen, I don’t know. (Obviously, as we’re only on Day One)  But I’m going to give it a damn good go.

 

Eating Out – The 2016 Summary

In all over this year, I’ve had 22 Michelin-starred meals in 18 places, for a total of 36 stars all told.  I’ve tried to keep a wide range through the year, from pubs-with-stars through to some of the most spectacular-looking dining destinations in the UK.  In no particular order, I’ve been to…

  • Three-star
    • Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester Hotel, London
    • Waterside Inn, Bray, Berkshire
  • Two-star
    • Hélène Darroze at the Connaught Hotel, London (three times, including tonight)
    • Champignon Sauvage, Cheltenham (twice)
    • Midsummer House, Cambridge
    • Hibiscus, London (now closed)
    • Hand and Flowers, Marlow
    • Manoir aux Quat Saison, Great Missenden, Oxon (for my Birthday, no less!)
    • Dinner at the Mandarin Oriental, London
    • The Ledbury, London
    • Marcus at the Berkeley Hotel, London
  • One star
    • House of Tides, Newcastle (twice)
    • Raby Hunt, Summerhouses, Darlington
    • Pony & Trap, Chew Magna, Bristol
    • Paris House, Woburn, Beds
    • Benares, London
    • Alimentum, Cambridge
    • Wild Rabbit, Kingham, Oxon

Interestingly, neither of the three-starred places count anywhere notable on my favourites.  In my opinion the best restaurants of the year have been

  • 1st= Hélène Darroze
  • 1st= Midsummer House
  • 3rd= Hibiscus
  • 3rd= House of Tides

The best meals, on the other hand, is a smaller list – the top three would be…

  • Hélène Darroze – the second visit
  • Hélène Darroze – the first visit
  • Midsummer House

Yes, Darroze really is that good (in my opinion, of course – others may vary)

Alongside that, honorable mentions go to

  • Wild Rabbit – any other year, it would certainly have been in the top three, and indeed I’d say it’s probably number four/five in the list
  • Marcus – much as I dislike the man himself, I can’t deny that the meal was bloody marvellous

There are other places I still want to go (and I’m considering another Scotland visit at some point in 2017) but I won’t be going to anywhere like as many as this year.  I’ve massively enjoyed it, and I truly don’t want to become blase about the entire thing.

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