Monday, August 30, 2010

Pebbles Magoo

Here are some pics of our new kitten.

(taken with a Pentax H90)

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Mike Tyson interview

Reading this makes me want to watch the Tyson documentary all the more.

Filling the void ... we be cat peoples

Monday, August 23, 2010

Magoo cat

Some three years ago, the Magoo cat visited our house and decided it was a very nice place to hang out indeed. We adopted the Magoo, the Magoo adopted us. From that point onward, the Magoo would come in to our garden, jump on the window ledge, and meow to be let in. This happened pretty much every single day. When we came back from week long holidays, the Magoo would be there.

Over the past week, Magoo lost her hunger and went very limp. There was the occasional modest recovery, but she would always dip back. Her weight plummeted, she stopped cleaning herself, and her breathing was increasingly difficult. Today, the owners of Magoo conveyed the sad news that she had severe tumors and had to be put down by the vet.

Rest in peace Magoo, we will miss you lots.

Film: Salt

Watched Salt last week. It's Mission Impossible meets The Bourne Identity, and is pretty good fare if you want something that's action filled and keeps you guessing (although it isn't a 'thinker's film' by any means).

Jolie was made for this role, or maybe the role was made for her ... either way, she nails it.

Good popcorn enjoyment.

*** 1/2

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A few shots with the Pentax H90

Just discovered that the magical light box produces pretty good pictures in artificial, dim-lit conditions. This picture was taken using the 'food' setting at night.

Here's an example of a macro shot. The camera also has a super-macro, which I need to experiment with.
The video mode is also worth its weight in gold, as it allows for a frame-by-frame playback, which is ideal for analysing one's golf swing!

Padraig Harrington doing the Happy Gilmore run-up just has to be tried.

Friday, August 20, 2010

An earlier blog post repeated - Wodehouse on golf

In one of the exquisite short stories from 'The Clicking of Cuthbert and Other Golf Stories', the Oldest Member of a golf club notes of the game of golf:

Golf, like the measles, should be caught young, for, if postponed to riper years, the results may be serious.
And later:
From this point onward the story Mortimer Sturgis proved the truth of what I said to you about the perils of taking up golf at an advanced age. A life-time of observing fellow-creatures has convinced me that Nature intended us all to be golfers. In every human being the germ of golf is implanted at birth, and suppression causes it to grow and grow till - it may be at forty, fifty sixty - it suddenly bursts its bonds and sweeps over the victim like a tidal wave. The wise man, who begins to play in childhood, is enabled to let the poison exude gradually from his system, with no harmful results. But a man like Mortimer Sturgis, with thirty-eight golfless years behind him, is swept of his feet. He is like that fly that happens to be sitting on the wall of the dam just when the crack comes.

Golf - relax, damn it!

I found something in my golf game which I forgot existed: the relaxed approach. It was on the driving range and it didn't last long, ten or fifteen shots maybe. But oh, it was so beautiful. The club did the work. I was just there, allowing it to happen. Click. Click. Click. We were tiring from a pretty long session, but we were not quite tired to the point of exhaustion. My mood had also lightened up (after one of our party sent the detached head of a much loved 3-wood into the roof netting and then on to the driving range floor, one floor down). The moment was fleeting. I started seeing the ball again. You do not want to see the ball. You must not want to strike. You must have your head down, your eye on the ball, but you must not see or feel the ball.

So quickly, the motion stopped being fluid and free. I was trying again. And as it came, so it went. But at least it came. This myserious state is very difficult to create, to force upon onself. I think it helps not to think of any point of contact, but even in the set-up there cannot be any tension in the upper body. The tension can create a controlled, strong game, but it is so much harder this way.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Pentax H90 sample shots - so far, so good

I've had a play about with my new toy (the Pentax H90), and the report is a mixed bag but it's generally pretty good. While the casing is solid, the lens area is more delicate, and the screen at the back is recessed around a plastic housing which could easily collect dust and dirt. So, the camera isn't perfect, but it does do what the old workhorse couldn't do, which is fit into my pocket with ease, enabling me to carry around 'just in case'.

The video function has also already been put to good use to capture our golf swings and observe them on a frame by frame view (horrific, I'm doing it all wrong!), as have the in built filters - check out the pictures below, both of which are lifted straight from the camera.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Nitro PDF is too slow ... switched to Foxit

I installed Nitro PDF a couple of weeks back because Adobe's Reader was constantly updating was yanking my chain and I wanted something that would just sit there and not be a constant pain in the ***. Nitro isn't bad but it's just too slow to load up on my old workhorse of a laptop. I've now switched over to another popular pdf reader called Foxit, and it seems to be performing rather well, even if it did rather cheekily install a toolbar into my Firefox browser (easy to remove).

Monday, August 16, 2010

Golf - Northwick Park PlayGolf Masters Course Review

This is the most beautiful course I have played. So beautiful infact that it intimidates - this is not helped by the old course ranger regaling us with stories that point to a strong, personal, emotional attachement to the course. For several holes, the tee-off ground is like a fine fairway, the fairways are like well manicured greens, and the green's are of the highest order (and especially prized by the ranger).

The course's 9 holes are modelled around famous Major's holes and even though most of them are par 3s, they can be extremely challenging. The only area where the course could be improved is in the bunkers - the design of the bunkers is superb, with really deep pockets, but the sand is often too compacted (I guess it's by the weather), but that's the only a niggle.

I had to buy shoes to play here, but it was worth it as we had a full day of golf. For £17, we got two rounds on the golf course (booked tee-times), 50 balls each on the driving range, and full access to the high quality practice zone (bunkers, chipping, putting). If you turn up on the door, this deal sets you back £25, but book on-line and there's a good discount to be had. The facilities on site are also great (including a driving range, a practice range, a large American Golf store, and a bar/restaurant).

Warning - The water hazard in this picture will steal all your balls, with no hope of getting them back.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Golf - Foot Joy shoes providing comfort and joy

After many years of treading the fairways and the roughs, I have finally got around to investing in a pair of FootJoy golf shoes. These boots provide great grip, are really comfortable, and they should hold up well in wet weather conditions, thereby allowing me to squeeze an extra month or two on either side of my all too short fair weather golfing season. It's one of those purchases that I wish I made ages ago.

Blog statistics

Blogger has finally delivered some reporting statistics for it's users. Here is some not so useful data, which I can use to refine my non-existent marketing strategy:

Top Search Keywords
flourless pancakes
tim westwood quotes
flourless pancake recipe
michael dudikoff 2010
is predators good

What no 'katlama' : (

Operating Systems
Windows 9,775 (87%)
Macintosh 1,009 (9%)
Other Unix 250 (2%)
iPhone 76 (<1%)
BlackBerry 21 (<1%)
iPod 21 (<1%)
Linux 12 (<1%)
PlayStation Portable 7 (<1%)
Nokia 6 (<1%)
iPad 6 (<1%)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Tweet, but why?

The tweeting thang is just an experiment. When I have blogged really short posts in the past, I would sometimes label them as 'tweets', so I thought I may as well start a Twitter account in earnest.

I was going to follow Stephen Fry's tweets, but he tweets too much. My brother-in-law seems to have the fequency and type of tweet nailed, so I am following him. I'm also following the philosophising Alain De Botton, and the RealStallone, who may or not be the real Stallone. To establish some male/female balance, I thought I'd add Tine Fey to the mix, but alas, while she has 26,504 followers, Tina hasn't issued a single tweet. In contrast, the not real Fey has 370,000 followers and she tweets frequently. Such is life.

Ah, just found an interview comment from the real Tina Fey:

"Twitter seems like a busman’s holiday: just more writing. I have no plans to do it. I’ll just stick with my 24/7 webcam. I’m old-fashioned that way." gets a revamp

The design and layout of my unbelievably popular blog has been left unchanged for a couple of years now. I remember putting in quite a bit of thought and effort into it's simple design. I brought on a web consultanting firm to steer the project to success, I utilised the expensive services of an imagineer to make us future proof, and I contracted a marketing company to get the word out. Build it and they will come, they said, and come they did. The re-branding exercise was a success and my readership took off, with an increase of 100% in a very short space of time. In absolute terms, having twenty more readers was a real boost to morale. The non-alcoholic champagne flowed. That the new readers were automated 'bots' wasn't the point. Who's to say what maketh a sentient being.

Anyway, now the time has come for v 2.0. I am re-envisioning the empire by adding a Twitter add-on to the right hand side of the blog. I recognise that I risk turning away dyed-in-the-wool readers by implementing such a sweeping overhaul to the site, but I can only beseech you all to stay with me through this time of change. Do not abandon me, my bots and my spam commentors, for you are my children, my following.


Damn I loved The Expendables.

The whole Expendables team kick ass: Jet Li provides the ninja element (essential to any good film), Statham is his usual Smart Alec self, busting chops the only way he knows how, Rourke is the sage tatooist, Stallone the tired old hand who wants to do a mission to redeem his soul, Terry Crews is the man with 'the gun to end all guns', and Lundgren provides the flipped out renegade element (surprisingly well). There are a few other folk in the mix, but these are the main guys.

On the upside, there is so much in this film that harks back to the 1980s actioner. There are plenty of anonymous enemy soldiers getting taken down, a final battle scene on a drug-lord's mansion base, an obligatory helicopter escape attempt toward the end, and there are lots of timed explosives. As for the story, it is simple but it ain't half bad, and the cast is as big as it gets. It's also a pretty grimy affair and the cheese is laden on just in just the right quantity (okay, slightly too mcuh cheese, but in a god way). The casting for the bad guys is also spot on, with Eric Roberts and Gary Daniels (Fist of the North Star) among the number. Daniels is only a henchman, but it's good to see him in a movie of this stature.

The movie isn't perfect, by any means: there is some terrible dialogue (although Li has some great lines and Lundgren's character is pretty mental), and the characters are not given much scope to develop. Also, while the action scenes are full on, there does seem to be a little CGI, and the blood letting isn't quite as gruesome as we witnessed in the latest Rambo.

In a world of androgenous fashions, where men where skinny jeans with bright shoes, and geeks rule the world, we NEED the Expendables more than ever. Bring on the sequel - this has the potential to be a franchise, and a good one at that.

Oh, and if you are wondering who Terry Crews is, he's this guy:

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Expendables is getting trashed

... this is not good. The Expendables currently scores a mere 40 on Metacritic.

For my ilk, viewing on the big screen is obligatory.

2689% borrowing rate!

My inital reaction to Wonga's short-term lending rate of 2689% APR is one of shock, disbelief, and disgust. These folk must be printing a tidy profit by exploiting the needy and desperate, for such a high interest rate surely offsets the risk of borrowers defaulting many times over. These are the moneylenders, the loan sharks, the guys who send folk into a cycle of despair and hopelessness ... a pound of flesh, a pound of flesh!

But then, I think, if it is such a machine for printing money, why don't other companies come in and push down the borrowing rate to more reasonable levels? Surely the barriers to entry in this game are minimal?

Friday, August 06, 2010

TopGolf in Surrey

The £12 golf buffet deal at Topgolf in Surrey is cracking value. For your money you get to play on the par 3, 9-hole course which isn't bad at all. The holes are a bit on the short side and there aren't many hazards, but the greens are in reasonable nick, the tee's are nice, and it isn't too busy (although it was a weekday).

But that's only for starters. You also get unlimited access to the Topgolf range/games. As shown in the picture below, pins are scattered around the range as per normal, but here the balls are all micro-chipped and the closer you land the ball to the pin, the more points you score. It's a bit like a cross between bowling and golf, with the point systems encouraging you to try that bit harder. The venue itself is also pretty good, with the only real downside being that the chav crowd can be a bit of a distraction.

I'm looking forward to going there again and working on my long game.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Camera - Pentax H90

My oh my. I'd been um-ing and aah-ing, hour after hour, over the new Pentax H90, which was launched earlier this year for around £130. Only a few months have passed since the camera hit the shelves and yet it can now be had for a mere £80. Indeed, after pouring over the many favourable reviews, it has now been 'had' and should arrive in a few days.

The unit's styling is achingly retro. Like my car, the camera is very square, which I really like.

I'm actually very satisfied with a trusty old Kodak DX 7440, but it's just awkwardly chunky so I'm reluctant to take it everywhere and anywhere. Damn, I love that camera though.

For me, the toughest decision of 2010 has been whether to go for the black and silver, orange and silver, or white and silver (I lead a simple life). I thought my hand was forced when I couldn't find an orange and silver model at the discounted price, but SRS Microsystems came to the rescue allowing me to go for a colour that firmly places the camera in a bygone decade.

The downside is that I haven't been able to grab a hold and get a feel foe the thing; Jessops dont stock Pentax gear and the salesman I spoke to at Curry's hadn't even heard of the brand! On the upside, the H90 has some new whizz bang features like 12 MP, 5x zoom, in-built filters, panoramic stitching, and HD movie recording, and the build is supposedly solid, but we'll have to see how the quality compares with the DX. I'll be happy if it is even marginally better, which it should be, as the chap at SRS confirmed that the quality was well above the price bracket where it has found itself.

Wexham golf course

Oh, I forgot to mention that I sampled another local golf course yesterday. Based in Wexham, the 9-hole course seems pretty expensive at £9.50 a round, but the quality is high and the holes are challenging. It's the perfect way to spend the evening and make the most of the long days.

Despite a particular golfing gremlin having found it's way into my swing, causing evil slices into the trees and beyond, I'm loving being out there.

BMJ Research: Calcium tablets and bad bones

Surely calcium tablets are good for the old bones?

Not so fast says the BMJ. The findings of this meta-analysis study titled, Effect of calcium supplements on risk of myocardial infarction and cardiovascular events: meta-analysis, are unusually blunt:

"Calcium supplements (without coadministered vitamin D) are associated with an increased risk of myocardial infarction. As calcium supplements are widely used these modest increases in risk of cardiovascular disease might translate into a large burden of disease in the population. A reassessment of the role of calcium supplements in the management of osteoporosis is warranted.

When they say myocardial infarction, think 'heart attack'.

The BMJ editorial article reads:

"Calcium supplements, given alone, improve bone mineral density, but they are ineffective in reducing the risk of fractures and might even increase risk, they might increase the risk of cardiovascular events, and they do not reduce mortality. They seem to be unnecessary in adults with an adequate diet. Given the uncertain benefits of calcium supplements, any level of risk is unwarranted."

"...on the basis of the limited evidence available, patients with osteoporosis should generally not be treated with calcium supplements, either alone or combined with vitamin D, unless they are also receiving an effective treatment for osteoporosis for a recognised indication. Research on whether such supplements are needed as an adjunct to effective agents is urgently required."

I wonder if vitamin D could help the situation, for if it is high levels of calcium in the bloodstream that is causing problems (my own thinking), then abandoning calcium tablets but eating a nutritious diet rich in calcium and supplementing with vitamin D may help absorption and reduce the risk of calcium hardening the arteries.

Expendables clip ... hell yeah

The Expendables Exclusive Clip in HD

Trailer Park Movies | MySpace Video

Monday, August 02, 2010

Film: Toy Story 3

Toy Story 3 starts and finishes with two cracking action sequences, and there is much in between to keep you entertained. So many of the toys brought back nostalgic memories, and you can connect to the characters as if they are real.

I'm not sure if today's kids will draw as much delight from the movie as the adults, but I loved it.


Sunday, August 01, 2010

Expendables coming soon .. Stallone Q&A

It's exploding on our screen later this month. For interested fans, Stallone has done another mammoth Q&A session with Aint It Cool, spanning over 5 days. You are guaranteed to learn something new from his answers.

For example, did you know that Sly was approached by the head of Paramount to write, direct and star in Godfather III. Here's what Stallone had to say on the matter:

'The GODFATHER III situation unfolded when the head of Paramount presented me with a poster already printed that had my picture and beneath it ‘GODFATHER III, written, acted and directed by Sylvester Stallone.’ Needless to say, if I weren’t wearing a hat, my skull would’ve split in two. Red-faced, I said to the headman ‘This is the worst idea since my conception.’ Francis created duel masterpieces and it was egregious insensitivity to pull it away from him for monetary reasons. Therefore I took this idea to the sea of mediocrity and plunged it to the bottom.'