Tick follows Tock follows Tick


Greetings

Well, we are now into the final period before going on holiday.  It’s measured in days now so things that should be done are now actually being done.  Cases are down, t-shirts are folded up and thrown in along with more pairs of shorts than I knew I had to be honest and my camera things are scattered about undergoing an ‘Mmm will I need that thing whatever the hell it is?’ assessment but I am coming back to one remarkable conclusion.  All that I actually need lives in my pocket.

Now allow me to quickly provide some context before you run away. My brain functions pretty much like this and I call it the ’3 Stages of Me’ and it is applicable to all things I see

Stage 1 – I don’t need an iPhone, they’re not that brilliant anyway

Stage 2 – looks at iPhone… thinks ‘they ARE brilliant’

Stage 3 – Buys iPhone

And now that I have had the iPhone in my hands, and trust me it’s barely ever out my hands, I can capture stuff I never thought I could. Tilt-shift? Yep, HDR? Yep, 8mm films? Yep, Fisheye? Yep 360 Panorama? Yep…and the options go on and on and on.The dearest app has been £2.69 which is ridiculously cheap given what I can do.  Sure a professional photographer would see the benefits of a DSLR with proper lenses but at my level this is just extraordinary.

So there you have it I’m an Apple Fanboy now, a fully paid up black turtleneck wearing ‘oh my God it’s so stylish’ spouting Jobby. I also repeated  the ’3 Stages of Me’ when people suggested I get an iPad just after I got the iPhone. So yep, when I am over in Orlando I am buying an iPad too. I can justify these things as utterly vital and crucial to my life, no really I can. Not that anything I have ever bought before was a spur of the moment purchase *what’s that you say RC Car?, oh pipe down I will play with you some day*. Anyway as I was saying the apps on the iPhone are utterly brilliant in a way my Android could only dream of.  I love taking pics and filming stuff and despite my best intentions I still look at my 300d with slack-jawed bemusement and I have had it over 6 years now.  Give me an iPhone app though and in seconds I am in full Scorcese mode and I utterly love it.  I am not creating cinematic magic but by God it makes me happy and I know I will be filming and snapping a lot of stuff on my holiday that previously I could only dream of. As for the iPad well it is needed because whilst I can edit on the iPhone I don’t fancy creating holiday films on it for a few hours, plus when the cost of an app is at most a couple of pounds as opposed to a lot more for editing software for my PC well it just makes so much more sense and I wont need to worry about cables and re-formatting, I just sync my iPhone with my iPad and away we go….plus it’s SHINY!!!

This is some of the stuff I captured last week on my precioussss in Aberdeen

Away from my efforts to corner the world markets in gadgets I finally got my Kilt.  Not got any of the associated bits n bobs for it yet as all my funds are tied up in tech now but after the holiday I will get the belt n’ shoes n’ shirt n’ well all the other stuff I need to make it look good and post a suitably impressive pic of me in full ‘Freeeeedom!’ mode.  Have to say I am really pleased with how it looks so far and am excited to get the whole outfit together so I can wear it at my sister’s wedding.

Anyway in WDW news the time to depart is here, it’s almost bloody here! The cases are down and I win the ‘packed-first’ competition. It was closely fought but I easily trumped my wife’s claim of ‘my clothes are all laid out to be packed’ with a gesture to my case in the corner wherein all my clothes were already packed. Sadly there was no prize other than smug self-satisfaction. I also transferred my Lego Stormtroopers over from the old fanny to the new one, no really now, come on, stop sniggering. I came downstairs with my fanny on and well lets say my wife was speechless with how awesome it looks.  I even had the chest-strap deployed which gives my fanny added support and let me tell you I looked good! I mean real good! I made Sinatra look like a hobo.

For all that I bang on about things I will buy and all the photography and filming I will do what I really cannot wait to experience are the feelings that being in WDW invoke. Riding the Monorail, walking under the arches to see Main Street, hearing the sounds as you enter Adventureland, looking at the neon of Tommorrowland at night.  It all relaxes me and brings back great memories and nothing can top that….not even a Lego Imperial Shuttle or an iPad……well its perhaps a tie but it’s all good.

Anyway that sounds like mildly sentimental twaddle so I will wrap it up at this point.

adios

Run Forrest RUN!


Greetings

Lets just dive in shall we.

Am delighted to say I am now a runner *takes a bow*. Even managed to break through the 5km target ahead of schedule in week 8 instead of 9. Mostly because I stuffed up my iPod and lost the NHS Podcast off it and could not get the sucker to load.  Truth is I had got to stage where I could run 20 minutes without much problem and just decided to fire on some music instead pick a point to run to and, well just run.  The official distance was 5.23km in total for that historic moment and I am quite amazed and a wee bit proud of myself.  It has now become a routine to go out running and I won’t claim to have become a model of healthy living with the body of an Adonis  but there has been a change in my eating habits and bits of my body don’t shake in the way they did a few weeks ago.  I actually find myself looking forward to going out running and whilst I have no doubts some runs will be tougher than others its been great fun and rerally rewarding to get to this stage. Anyway that’s enough humble-bragging from me.

Time is also marching on towards the holiday to WDW so all the things I plan to do to make this holiday go with a swing need to actually be done now. To that end Star Wars t-shirts have been purchased, gadgets for my cameras have been ordered and I have a new Fanny! Don’t worry I am not about to declare a major gender re-orientation merely I needed a new fanny-pack for the stuff I need to weigh me down in the park so that is currently sitting upstairs along with all the other gubbins.

My other planning has centred on vital issues such as what foods to eat at Epcot and also what Lego I will buy. See below for a hint

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But you are 41 fer Chris’sakes I hear you cry (actually my wife) but my days of pretending to be anything other than a wean-brain are long behind me. If the last few months have taught me anything it is take your fun where you can because there are lots of other things that will burst you happy bubble.  I have been saving for stuff like this for a long time and whatever I have in my savings ti will be splurged on Lego, Vinylmations and whatever the hell else I fancy in WDW. 

I also mentioned foods above and last week I bought the Disney Food Blog guide to Epcot.  I think I can safely say Epcot is my favourite Park at WDW.  That’s not to say the others are bad, I mean it’s more like choosing the best of the best to be honest but I can wander for hours in Epcot taking pics, watching people go buy, seeing an Oil Rig up close on a wee boat or stuffing my face with food glorious food and now thanks to the Snack Guide I will know just where to go for the hidden gems and tasty treats that Epcot has to offer. Possibly it is just as well I have embarked on a healthier regime when I did as for two weeks in Florida I will be going for culinary glory with nary a thought for calorie content….just like the good old days then.

To ensure I am up to speed on popular culture and to put an end to the hourly requests from my son we went to see Avengers Assemble this past weekend.  It’s called Avengers Assemble here to avoid confusion with the TV series called The Avengers…apparently. 

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I honestly despair sometimes at the fact the kind of idiots who would make that mistake are catered for so excessively. Talking of idiots I have a suggestion for Odeon Cinemas…..Headphones (or ball-gags) as I seemed to be a screening that attracted every kind of muppet. The fidgets, the crunchers, the talkers and the generally mentally deficient.  I just had to sit and fume as if I yelled at one person I would have had to yell at them all.  You really would think a film like The Avengers would be loud enough to drown out everything but no, this room full of mouth-breathers did everything possible to make sure I went ‘Hulk’ on them. Luckily, unlike Banner I kept a lid on my fury and did my best to ignore them and watch the film which was EXCELLENT! It really is as good as everyone says and I am not a massive fan of the Marvel Superheroes but the script was excellent, the effects great and the calibre of acting was top-notch.  I look forward to watching it at home and in the kind of environment I prefer, comfy couch, couple of drinks and perfect silence apart from the film.

Here endeth the blog.

Adios

Just call me the Running Man


Howdy,

As the title suggests I am now well into my Couch to 5k regime.  Indeed it’s weird that I am at Week 5 already and have gone from being utterly awful at running (shin-splints, sprained ankles, etc) to running for 90 seconds non-stop and to now managing to run for 8 minutes non-stop! To give you a little perspective on how amazing this is when I was at school and apparently full of youthful energy and such like I actually had to get a lift from the PE teacher during a cross-country run….and despite getting dropped ahead of at least half the class I still came in last.  When they say ‘listen to your body’ I always did and as soon as it would say ‘for the love of God what are you doing?’ I would stop and start strolling.  PE was never really for me truth be told and I think both myself and my teachers were well aware of this fact.

So here I am over half way through the program and it’s all going swimmingly. No injuries, no lasting effects from the exertion and more than a hint of toning as well. I do not have any long-term goals as such but I may end up doing an actual organise 5k run at some point rather than just running for fun around the local streets. Either way it’s helping me get fit and prepare myself for ………

WDW!!! apologies to Margaret and Craig as I know my blithering on about my forthcoming holiday is making them hate me but I am pleased to say my holiday mojo has returned.  Thank God! as I was wondering if I was going to find myself on the eve of departure still not having enjoyed the build up as much as I usually do.  So last week I sat down and opened up DisneyFoodBlog, DisneyTouristBlog and DisneyPhotographyBlog and pored over them till I was throughly excited and raring to start pounding the streets of WDW taking pics and eating food as I went.

Also as part of my fine-tuning my thoughts turned to footwear.  One disastrous year I wore running shoes and damn near crippled myself. Between blisters on my blisters and seized up calves I realised I simply could not make that kind of mistake again so went with Active Footwear in 2010 and had no problems at all.  I did find having only one pair of footwear with me a bit tricky at times though so decided I should take an option with me this summer. Well, let me tell you Crocs are a heck of a polarising subject!

Within seconds of posting on Facebook I was getting comments ranging from ‘No’ to ‘Hell No’ to ‘You should be shot!’. Well maybe not the latter but the gist of it was at no stage should I dare don a pair of the Devil’s Footwear. Well I am nothing if not a contrarian so I very much will be buying a pair.  After all if you saw a 6’4 guy wearing a Star Wars t-shirt, a green Hip Pack, Monorail Baseball Cap and munching on a Mickey Bar would it really be my footwear that made you think I was somewhat challenged in the fashion department?

So you can expect a lot more WDW  updates over the coming weeks. I can thrill you with tales of what Lego kits I will be buying, how many Funnel Cakes one man can consume, why I am always right and know the fastest route to any ride and if you are lucky I will let you in on my Top 3 Princesses!

In other exciting news last Friday saw me taking the kids off to see The Pirates! An Adventure with Scientists although in the US it’s known as The Pirates! Band of Misfits….odd re-title but there you go. Perhaps the same folk who objected to the Leper joke objected to the word Scientists too.

Anyway it was hilarious and I had a great time even though it was in 3D for no discernible reason. Honestly, the sooner directors tire of 3D the better.  The only time I have ever enjoyed a 3D experience is Mickey’s Philarmagic and it saddens me to realise that 3D is allowing Lucas to once more pillage the now bloated corpse that is Star Wars.  Indeed the children said the highlight of last Friday night was not The Pirates but my impassioned rant against 3D and George Lucas on the journey back home in which I railed against Han shooting first, the Ewoks clagging up ROTJ and that bloody Binks creation. Social Services ought to take Star Wars into care because what Lucas is doing to it now is bloody abuse. I await the stop-motion version to be announced any day! Although that said I am looking forward to riding the new Star Wars ride at Disney Hollywood Studios (hopefully I will get to shoot some Ewoks on Endor)

And on that note I shall leave you

cheerio

I believe it’s called jogging or ‘yogging’


Greetings people

Been a quiet mundane week apart from a bout of gardening and unexpected athleticism not a lot has happened. Still, that will not stop me from rabbiting on so here we go.

Last week the weather was very un-Scottish (it did not rain) so I could address the issue of the garden. The grass was so long that releasing the dog out to pee meant you had to track him by watching how the grass was swaying till he emerged exhausted trailing bushes and twigs behind him. So armed with a shiny new lawnmower I laid waste to the jungle and it looks quite smart now. I also gave the front garden the kind of de-bushing that frankly was on a par with a lady having a Hollywood! Everything must go and indeed did go!!. After several hours of this I was as you can imagine slightly puggled so rested my weary limbs on my swing chair. Well being lazy I never bothered adding the cushion you are supposed to sit on, after all what is the worst that could happen?

Well below shows the worst that can happen. Not in picture is me in the middle of that hole folded up like a human deckchair. Also not in picture is my back with friction burns and bruises. However I did save my Grumpy mug so blood loss and tissue trauma was a price was paying

Later that night I was shaving upstairs and my son wandered by noticing the state of my back. Explaining to him how I did it he commented ‘is that because you are too big, maybe you should lose a few pounds’….as you can imagine I laughed at my witty son (I also threw things at him) then decided I possibly could benefit from making some effort in regard to being fit.

I have a deep appreciation of Pizza and Cider and despite having a fast metabolism there is no doubt in recent months certain parts of me have grown. So on Wednesday night I donned shorts, located my running shoes and fired up the Couch to 5k NHS podcast. Laura, who helped me along, promised me she would be gentle and a 5 minute brisk walk seemed easy enough. Even 60 seconds of running was a doddle. Couch to 5k? Pah, how about 10, 15…sod it make it 20k love! Of course I was soon was back to reality about halfway through. Holy moly this was harder going than I expected. When would this end? I had already exhausted my route and was doing laps about the block. After 30 minutes, 4.19km and a total of 8 minutes actual running I was back in the house still alive and experiencing what can only be described as a mild buzz. Laura advised me I should eat healthily and drink water, also I should not run again for 2 days. I had tea instead and looked at a banana.

I did take Laura’s advice about not running again very seriously though. So tonight in a fit of Herculean exuberance I went for a ride on my bike. 14.2 km in total with a top speed of 15.7 km per hour. I also had an elevation gain of 282m but to be honest I have no idea what that means. I have an app for my phone hence my peculiar level of accuracy.

In fact all I need to do now is start shaving regularly and I may as well call my next blog The Affair.

Adios

Farewell Renault Merde……you will not be missed!


Greetings regulars

As promised last week here is the tale of us finally throwing the ‘minkey’ off our backs, the ‘minkey’ in question being a French car as for too long have we owned a Renault Scenic.  Owned is more appropriate than driven as on many occasions the bugger was off the road suffering from various ailments such as broken springs and broken dashboards and broken windscreen wipers and broken engines and  not forgetting the merely annoying things such as broken window winder upper motors.  And when the bulbs fail you lose more than money replacing them.  Skin and lots of blood will be lost as you try and get your hand into the  2 inch gap between jagged shards of metal and the light mounting. Mind you not all repairs were dear.  There was a strange rattle off the underside of the car which a mechanic who took pity on us repaired by yanking the offending bit of metal off of it saying ‘ach you don’t need that’.  You may be aghast at that kind of bodging but if you too ever owned a Renault you will know that it’s all the bastards deserve! For example, last years calamity was it’s best yet when the water pump broke in turn snapping the timing belt which in turn destroyed the pistons, all 16 of them!…..oh how we laughed, then cried, then sobbed, then laughed again with more of a manic tone.

It seemed a fine enough car at the time we bought it but slowly it exacted its revenge upon us and started to malfunction and we grew used to mechanics muttering ‘aye Renaults are known for that’.  In fact Renault are known for many things but driving without fault is not one of them.  So after spending more than enough money on it the thought of road-taxing it was enough to tip the scales against it.  The Renault Merde had to go!

Now my only interest in cars begins and ends with Top Gear and since we were not upgrading to a Bugatti Veyron I delegated all duties to my wife with the only stipulation being the car engine must be a 1.2, no more no less.  To be honest this was quite an arbitrary decision on my part based on nothing whatsoever but I liked to feel I was somehow involved.  Thereafter I retired to surfing t’internet for hacked celeb pics (aren’t female celebs awful careless these days), Hitler cats and Star Wars Lego.  My wife, meanwhile, started searching local car dealers and pictures of puppies (no, the furry kind).

Long story short she found a car she wanted arranged a test drive and the next Saturday morning we rocked up at the showroom.  For my part I was playing the role of disinterested purchaser and boy was I ‘inhabiting’ the role.

‘Care for a test-drive sir?

‘Nope sunshine, I will just go sit in the waiting room’

And with that I headed off to the comfort of the seated area with my daughter as my wife and son went off with the salesman in tow on a tour of the local by-pass as my son regaled him with tales of all the Renaults faults.

I myself made a wise choice as I was very entertained in the waiting area by a man whose car had just failed it’s MOT, a turn of events which seemed to bemuse him entirely.

‘It’s failed?’ he said…’on the welding?’ he continued.  When he used the same quizzical tone when she asked to take a seat I knew we had a winner here! Sadly I never got to hear him question any more statements from the receptionist as I had to go from disinterested browser to disinterested negotiator.  I’d like to think I helped my wife’s efforts to get a good deal here by unsettling the salesman but to be honest she did very well all by herself.  She goes from mild-mannered easy-going lady to a female Gordon Gekko in these situations and after many trips to see the imaginary manager that all garages have the salesman eventually came down to the figure she had intended to pay all along.  At that point I stopped staring at the trees outside and smiled at the knowledge we had at last rid ourselves of the Renault and were about to embark on a wonderful new relationship with a Honda.

So far it has been a joy! There are no weird rattles, bumps, loss of power, malfunctioning locks, and all the other things that made owning a Renault such a shitty experience.  Plus I can hook up my iPod to the stereo.  Alas so can my son so I have had to endure Coldplay on more than one occasion….more than one occasion being the top end of my tolerance for those feckless bed-wetters.

Talking to friends and fellow sufferers I can advise you all French cars are awful, be they Renault, Citroen or Peugeot, so in summary I would say to you never ever buy French at all.

I feel better for unloading now so till next time, au revoir

What a fanny


Somehow we are entering the home-straight for my trip home to WDW this summer.  I know it’s several months still by most folks reckoning but to me it’s a blink and you miss it timescale.  The main measurement of time is what I like to refer to as ‘pay-days’, you may have heard of them.  For me I use them as a measurement of time as they each allow me to buy another gadget or gizmo for my photography.  They are not always dear but they are vital items for me to own and covet otherwise I will not be able to achieve my artistic vision!

Now, given all the gadgets and gubbins I buy are utterly vital and must be carried at all times I need to figure out exactly how I will carry them. The shoulder bag I used to use when combined with my fanny pack was sufficient but now with multiple lenses, flashgun and GoPro stuff plus Tripod, etc I need something bigger, meatier and just …well…more!

Ladies and Gentlemen I give you the ultimate pack for your fanny!

This bad-boy is so hefty it needs a shoulder strap.  I did try rigging up an existing bag with smaller pouches and bags attached to it and it was unwieldy, looked stupid, banged off vital parts of me inducing great pain and frankly security at WDW would wear out their poking sticks poking all the nooks and crannies. So this ‘One Fanny to rule them all’ option is the way to go

Did I mention the steadicam I plan to buy….actually no that’s enough camera stuff.

I am also looking to embrace my full Scottish-ness and get that thing some folk call a skirt, of course legally we Scots are allowed to punch those folk as we tell them it’s called a KILT!  Now I have worn the Kilt before and loved wearing it but I always hired them so since my sister is getting married in a Scottish Castle later this year I decided now was the time to treat myself.   I have to say though that for a race as canny and thrifty as we are we picked a hell of an expensive national dress.  It did not take long to realise that the starting price for just a basic Kilt, Jacket, Sporran, Socks, Brogues, Flashes, Sgian Dhub, Belt and Buckle was taking me quickly into several hundreds of pounds territory.  So like one of those stupid ‘build a working steam-engine’ magazine subscriptions so will my Kilt grow bit by bit over a period of several months as I buy bits of it here and there till I can finally go out dressed like a true Scot in my Clan colours (below)!

Now I have to say that is not an ideal colour for me and whilst I am keen to stick to a Tartan that I have links with I would rather something less, well, red frankly.  Luckily the Tartan system is quite flexible so I can also wear the Clan Gordon Tartan (below), or so my half-baked research indicates, so that at least gives me options.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I will give the MacBean Tartan a go though as sometimes seeing them for real is better than a computer image. Plus I imagine there is not a lot of demand for it so maybe the Kiltmaker will be finally glad to sell one of them at a vastly reduced price

As part of my research I also learned my Clan motto


‘Touch Not A Catt Bot A Targe.’

Now initially I was amazed as I hate cats and get an allergic reaction if I am near them anyway so to me the whole ‘Touch not a cat’ was perfect for me.  Turns out it actually means ‘don’t touch this cat with out a shield’ or in even plainer terms ‘mess with us and you’ll get your arse handed to you!’.  To be honest most clan mottos are a threat of massive harm against others it just so happens my motto is something to do with cats.

Anyway it’s been a while since I blogged and that has fair worn me out.  Next time I will tell you about my trip to the car-dealer….oh such fun!

Size does not matter.


Been a while so let us not waste time squabbling about who did not do what

Christmas has been and gone, as you may well have noticed, and we are well through January already.  Most folk don’t like January as not a lot happens and mostly the weather is awful or if you are in Scotland positively calamitous.  For me though it’s a great time…..I was born in January.  What this means is that much like a contestant in a crappy game show I get to roll over my winnings from Christmas and combine it with my Birthday booty.  Cynical I know but frankly I am not one of those ‘it’s the thought that counts’ kind of people.  It just pains me when folk spend money with the best of intentions and get it wildly wrong.  Before you tut in disgust at my materialism let me say in my defence that one of my best gifts last year was a £3 DVD because it was just what I wanted so I don’t need folk to spend huge wedges of cash to make me happy.

However as regular readers will know I have a love of gadgets and you will be delighted to know I have finally stopped talking about the things I wanted to get and actually gotten them.  I finally stopped plotting and scheming to get a new camera and decided to plump instead for a quality piece of glass.  I will spare you ALL the details but at times my Amazon wishlist had more lenses in it than the shops I was browsing had as stock.  I eventually settled on a 50mm 1:4 Prime lens which I now have in my possession.  You cannot begin to imagine the pleasure I am getting from it already.  The Prime gives you amazing Bokeh for reasons I won’t pretend to fully grasp but basically it means what you focus on is delightfully sharp and the background is all blurred. See below for proof.

I also now a fantastically dinky wee GoPro Hero2.  The promo stuff for this basically indicates it’s used only by motocross riders who are not fans of gravity, people who leap off mountains and hope for the best or people who like to float in the water enticing sharks to mistake them for seals.  Needless to say this is not why I bought it.  Although that said when I go to Blizzard Beach this year I will be filming stuff in the water I have never filmed before, i.e. me getting a wedgie on Summit Plummit! More locally though I can use it to create Timelapse with as it has a really good quality stills capability and can can take thousands of images.  Basically only the battery and your memory card will limit you.

You may be wondering why it is sitting on an egg-timer. Or you may not give a hoot, in which case I would wonder why you were still reading but anyway I digress.  As the GoPro is such a lightweight camera you can create Timelapse films with movement simply by attaching it to an egg-timer, winding it to the appropriate point and pointing it at your desired target.  I have done a couple already and it works a treat.  The amount of satisfaction I got from making this work was akin to the joy I feel on a Tuesday night when I take my first bite of Pizza. People who know me on Twitter and Facebook will realise the magnitude of that statement!

Am sure at some point I will be sharing what I create but I am having an ‘auteur’ crisis and am locked in an editing suite still creating my masterpiece. Actually I am sitting here with a cup of tea writing this as it’s chucking it down outside but hey-ho the first version sounded better.

Anyway you may be wondering about the title of this blog and no I am not having some kind of crisis.  I have often been amazed by the amount of packaging stuff comes with these days but Amazon really surpassed themselves this week….

Jeez Amazon did you run out of the bigger boxes? When I first saw the package I thought I had ordered the wrong thing then I opened it and my lens was sitting there all forlorn in the vast open unused space. I know they cannot craft bespoke boxes for everything but surely they have a smaller size that makes much more sense for the environment and the Postman. Oh listen to me I sound like a tree-hugger.

Anyway it’s my birthday so I am off to play with my massive Canon again!