Living in the Now!

Learning to enjoy my life more!

Why I hate TV

In the beginning

When I was a little boy I loved watching TV, just like any ordinary kid. Between 4 and 12 I used to get up early every Saturday and Sunday to watch the cartoons and shows like “Going Live” and “Games Master”. If fact I learned sarcasm from watching Dominic Diamond putting down some teen with that sarcastic Scottish wit! I also learned that a floating astronomers head could give me cheats for my favorite games.

As I got older and my tastes changed, I wanted to watch stuff that was a little more adult without being boring. And because I was into drawing, I was attracted to strong visual style of Manga and anime, I loved the intricate story’s of the “Ghost in the Shell” series and movie’s. In fact I still enjoy them today, along with “Patlabor”, “Akira” and more recently “Full Metal Alchemist” and “Initial D” (what can I say, I LOVE racing!).

The Classics

Throughout my youth I built an appreciation of classic TV, from the original “Star Trek” to “Columbo” and “The man from uncle” to name a few. All were well written and well produced and provided hours of entertainment for a young boy.

again as I grew older my taste evolved, I started enjoying the British thrillers like “Cracker”, “Wire in the Blood”, “Spooks” and one that some may not of heard about “Ultraviolet” (although more of a supernatural thriller).

Today

Today I watch mostly Motors TV and documentaries or I’ll visit the cinema. Or I watch internet tv (Jupiter Broadcasting with the Linux Action Show, TechSnap, Unfilter and the Faux show and there’s the TWiT network) or YouTube (Mystery Science Theater 3000, bashcraft, Philly D, 20 mins or less etc).

I also enjoy Big Bang Theory, Board Walk Empire, Dexter, House and The IT Crowd. But I miss the thrillers I used to enjoy and the BBC have dumbed down their programming.

What has happened

TV today is all about stupid reality shows that have nothing to do with reality, or game shows that are more about luck than any show of knowledge or skill. Chat shows that delight in dragging on the detestable, destitute, socially inept, awkward or anti social scum. Then using a misguided sense of superiority to judge and “help” / demonize them.

Then there’s the talent(less) competitions that enjoy deluding people in to thinking anyone can become famous. Creating a false sense of drama by having one overly critical judge and the rest of the panel being easily won over.

What to do?

This shower of shit that I’m being force fed only sickens me more. “well don’t watch it!” I hear people say but when I go on the internet, people are talking about it or when I’m out and about I end up faced with it.

I could learn to live with it if there were more content that appeals to me. If TV evolved to what it keeps promising to, then almost everyone would be happy with the content. But big TV networks are unimaginative entities that keep repeating the same mistakes over and over. Until it stops making money then they move on to the next formulaic money spinner and bleed that dry.

So I’ve had enough, I’m off to get my own entertainment. Roll your own if you will.

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A few months

So a few months has past since my last post, lots of things have been going on, my uncle died, and old school friend died. Family members being taken ill, some one stealing money out of my wife’s Pay Pal account. It’s been a real challenge trying to keep positive and to keep on, things are starting to look brighter though. I’m getting some entertainment from some person that seem’s to like trolling my blog (see last post for comments.). I’ve also been enjoying the latest updates to Project C.A.R.S.

My latest Project C.A.R.S. video. (Had a few little incident’s, due to using a control pad but it also shows some of the crash dynamics)

This weekend I’m off to Monmouth for the night with Vicky (my Wife) and her parents, Nice to have a bit of a break from my latest addiction Anno 2070, me and my mate Phill have been playing it a fair bit. Also been doing a lot of emulating on my media centre, Commodore 64, NES, SNES, Mega Drive (Genesis for those in the US) and Gameboy. I upgraded the memory in my Net book from 1GB DDR2 to 2GB DDR2, my desk top from 4GB DDR3 to 8GB DDR3 but I think my media centre could do with another 2GB DDR2 and its a bit sluggish with full HD content. Also I’ve put my order in and paid for a Raspberry Pi that should be here soon I hope, will write about it after a little while.

Also working on a short story, some times me Vicky and my brother in law Tim set each other little challenges to write short stories by giving each other a title, word count and a deadline. This time however we have only given titles. So I’m working on a science fiction story based on Mars called the Dragons Daughter, research is nearly done and a rough plot outline is forming. And unlike my previous work I can actually publish this, my last one was based on existing characters so I’m reluctant to show it to the world as I wouldn’t want to fall foul of copyright or trademark laws.

Although I have just rediscovered my love for Mystery Science Theater 3000 thanks to You Tube and made a convert of Vicky.

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Time to change the penguin!

For the past few years I’ve been running Ubuntu as my everyday OS of choice when not Gaming. And I became quite a fan, I still am! And was looking forward to the latest release 11.04 Natty Narwall with the new user interface Unity. I was excited, here Connonical (the organization behind Ubuntu) had created a new UI that seems to be made for touch screens from day one (even though its a re-engineered UI from the netbook edition). Yet after trying to use it for 2 day’s I became incredibly frustrated with it as thing’s didn’t work the way I expected. So I put this down to me not “getting” the way it work’s. but then after watching the Linux Action Show I saw that I wasn’t the only one, I held hope that I might be able to make it work the way I wanted but there are no options.

Ubuntu Logo

Ubuntu Logo

Something new

So I’ve got two choices

  1. Go back to Ubuntu 10.10 or 11.04 in classic mode.
  2. Download and try a new distribution.

For this I didn’t want to download loads of DVD ISOs and spend age’s sifting through the ok to find the good.

So I narrowed my choices down to two, openSUSE and Linux Mint. I had used openSUSE year’s ago (version 7 I think) and found it easy and well built. And Linux Mint had always been touted as Ubuntu/Debian based and just as easy to use. so I though these are most likely the better distros for me to try.

openSUSE logo

openSUSE logo

Testing times ahead

What I plan to do is install openSUSE 11.4 first and try living with it for a month then installing Mint and living with that and at the end I’ll see what distro I will use till Ubuntu make Unity better or until I feel I need to change again.

Although that might be tough since Gnome 2 is now reaching the end of its life and I am not a fan of KDE at all. So I might have to learn to love Unity (I don’t hate it) or wait and see what Gnome 3 offers.

Mint logo

Mint logo

So I will post new article to update with my findings, I’m not doing any special tests just trying to do what I would normally do in an OS. If I cant do these things then I will move on to something else.

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Overcoming life’s hurdles

When most people meet me and talk to me they accept me as an average person, may be a little socially awkward but on the whole average guy, few people know the truth. I was diagnosed with Dyslexia, Dyspraxia and partially brain-dead, dyslexia has taken me years to get to terms with and I still struggle with it daily. When I was 14 I could hardly read or write and I could only do the most basic of maths problems, today at 29 pushing 30 I am studying for a HND in Information Systems and plan on going for a degree in the same subject once the HND is finished. I have to study advanced maths in order to complete this course and when I’m studying that and other unfamiliar subjects I have to put more effort than my class mates seem to, just to understand what is being said to me.

If someone had said to me 14 years ago that I would be working toward a degree in Information Technology I would have thought they were telling me lies. I would have thought it was a rouse to try to get me to work harder, but know I see where I came from and I see all the hardship’s that I’ve overcome. I remember those that had no faith in me, belittled me and thought I was stupid, their taunts still fresh in my mind but I am beyond pathetic attitudes from miss understanding individuals who will never understand what it is to live with these disorders. Any way I digress, the purpose of this post is not to point fingers or to air out a grudge, it is to talk about how much I’ve overcome what was holding me back.

I have never known a time where I could dance, and I’m not talking competently, I mean at all! I can’t even do something as basic a aerobics. Unlike my dyslexia, dispraxia is quite different and I’ve never had any support in dealing with this disorder, but according to the definition of what dispraxia is I have it relatively mildly. There are some elements of dispraxia I do not fit into, when I was younger I had excellent hand and eye coordination, so good in fact that I would regularly sketch in pencil and would always work from memory or observation(although I could never work in colour), I played video games and some believe that playing games helped me improve my hand eye coordination. I also compete in motor racing, although only virtually, I do exhibit some natural talent but I do struggle with my foot work and feel I might not be able to master the heel toe technique, but I’ll still give it a go.

But despite not entirely fitting the definition of a dispraxic I do have the disorder, as I said I cannot do coordinated rhythmic movement, the first time I even attempted to do anything that might resemble dancing in over 20 years was at my wedding. I couldn’t tie my shoe laces till I was 18 and a neck tie till I was 19, my hand writing is slow but well formed and legible but because of this I often need extra time in written tests. I can run and walk without tripping or falling (well no more than average) in fact my balance is better than most.

The biggest problem I have is my brain, being partially brain dead sounds quite severe but in my case not so much, but even this has a huge impact on my live and how I live from day to day. It is the one thing that scares and hurts me more than anything else. I often refer to it as my memory problem in conversation as to actually explain it to people takes a long time. I have problems with my sort term memory, I have been told that the part that deals with this isn’t actually dead but is misfiring and sending signals to the wrong areas of my brain. So when I make a new memory, most of the time it works the way it should and I am able to recall and use information I have absorbed, but every now and again it doesn’t work and what ever I was doing is sent somewhere else and I am never able to recall that information.

That’s basically what I was told by the doctors after a cat scan when I was 9, but I’ve noticed a slight addition to this problem over the years, I can sometimes absorb and remember information fine but my ability to access it can at times become impaired, even when I’ve used this information several times before. Typical example is the date of my wedding, I know the date of my wedding but my ability to recall it is very hit and miss, this is so much of a problem that I told my wife about it before we were married because I didn’t want her to be upset for missing anniversary’s or for not knowing when filling in forms.

Despite such a unpredictable and frustrating problem I have several coping mechanism’s to help me overcome it, although not completely. I have always used smart phones and for someone with the problems I suffer, it has become an invaluable piece of technology. Recently I have adopted the Android operating system on my smart phone because it is the most flexible OS for my particular needs, a calendar function that synchronizes between the phone and any other compatible devices and software and is also available on-line through a web page. Documents and notes that also are stored on-line and are accessible from compatible devices and software, multiple alarms with schedule functions so I can alert myself to many different things that are a part of my daily routine. Spell check with suggestions and full QWERTY keyboard, in fact so much of my phones information is backed up on-line that if I ever forget it and loose it I have not lost the information it contains and there’s also the possibility I can recover the phone using GPS tracking.

Without my phone or computer I would be very limited in a lot of ways, I live part of my life digitally because it allows me to function normally and because I can function normally no one can guess what I’ve had to do to get where I am today and tomorrow I will be father away than I am today. I have to keep advancing, I have to keep going forward. I don’t fear much but the thing I do fear the most is the thing I live with every day, I fear that I will forget to turn the cooker off, I fear that I will forget my name, I fear that I’ll forget how to communicate or read. I fear that I’ll lose my memory.

I’ve overcome a lot and I’m sure there’s a lot more to come but if I stay resolute in the face of life’s problems I can overcome them or compensate for them.

Here is a video I found very moving and inspirational

If you want to know more about Dick and Rick Hoyt then visit the website Team Hoyt

If you have had to overcome a problem big or small then feel free to comment, or if you just wish to share something.

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Wow, busy don’t even cover it!

This past 3 weeks have been a real roller coaster, but I continue to push my self. I’ve just spent the past 24 hours researching and writing 4600 word essay that has to be handed in and already writing in my blog and It’s not even been an hour since I finished it.

Here’s a run down on the coaster ride I’m on, this past moth I’ve been to a funeral, a wedding, visit the gym at least twice a week, working on four assignments and two coursework, keeping the house tidy (ish) traveling everywhere by bus (due to unfortunate circumstances), shopping, cooking, enjoying the start of the formula one season, getting some unfortunate news and some fantastic news (still waiting for my Dad to confirm it though) and a million little things I can’t remember.

But now I’m tired, I’m sleep depraved and looking forward to my bed when I get home from college. I just got to get through this day, hand in my assignment and do my presentation for my other assignment.

Wish me luck, I need it! And the large can of red bull in my bag.

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The Art of Taking Risks!

To Set The Stage

The other day while looking for a video to illustrate my passion for motor sport I came across a book that at first had me feeling dubious about its worth and content but I picked up a little tidbit and…

…two hours later I had peaked my interest and had researched a bit about this book.
The book is called “The Art of Racing in the Rain” and seems like an unusual story about a dog looking at life using motor sports as a metaphor for life. I knew I would love to get this book but I was afraid it will just end up adding another partially read book to my ever-growing collection.

So a few days later on trip to London with my wife and brother in-law, I saw it in a book shop and before you knew it *ping* I had got it. Noe the unusual thing here is that I read it in a week (normally for me I usually have trouble finishing a book even ones I really like.)

But…

I was so enthralled that I could hardly put it down, it engaged me and I felt comfortable with the whole story and it made me think “what would I do if I was Denny?” or “What would I do if I was Enzo?” It made me love the characters and the story flowed, simply and concisely. The point of view from which the story was told is unusual but refreshing and the motor racing techniques turned metaphor resonated with me on a deeply personal level.

But then this leads me on to…

How some times I often fret over whether or not to do something or accept something. A good example is, a friend once offered to speak to someone they knew about letting me be a driver on a real racing team in a real car. this is a dream come true for me and I should have said yes, I should have stood up and hugged him and said a thousand thank you’s. But I didn’t! I did what I always do, I sat there and though “I’m too fat, too unfit, I’ve never driven a car for more than an hour in real life and I don’t even have a licence!” my only experience is years and years of playing simulations on my computer, Sports car GT, Gran Turismo 1-2-3 & 4, Forza 1 & 2, Live for speed, rFactor, GT-R, Race 07, DiRT 1 & 2, WRC 2010, Richard Burns Rally, F1 2010 and many other arcade racers.

So the idea scared me, so I said no, I wasn’t willing to take the risk even though it was something I wanted more than anything. And the risk I was afraid of wasn’t getting into the car and driving it at high-speed, it was that I felt completely unprepared. But recently I’ve been going through some changes, me and my family have been faced with some very difficult problems and it’s been hard to go about our daily lives. I lost my aunt to cancer in the past few weeks, and in an attempt to distract my self from the situation I watched a film called “Yes Man” and even though it’s just an idea based of the book by the same name, the idea it try’s to put across made me think I need to stop saying no to the things I want, even if I think I am not prepared for them.

While reading “The Art of Racing in the Rain”, I came across a little passage that also has helped me adjust my outlook on my life and add some positivity back into my life. “the car goes where the eyes go,” meaning simply that when things go wrong if you start focusing on the bad and the worst case scenario then that is what’s likely to happen, but if you remain positive and plan for a positive outcome then you can recover from what ever has gone wrong.

Some times its hard to keep focus when everything around you is falling apart, as I said earlier I lost my aunt the other week but that was the biggest thing me and my wife have had to deal with but not the only thing. There’s been at least 2 other family members who are seriously ill at the moment, Vicky my wife has also lost her driver’s licence on medical grounds. I’ve been trying to carry on my uni course and deal with not having any money, but we have remained resolute and objective and I feel we are coming out the other side of it. Reminds me of another racing metaphor “in order to finish first, first you have to finish”, so even in the face of  all the trouble we’ve faced these past moths we are not only holding it together but adapting and growing. But without the love and support of my wife a lot of what I face would become insurmountable hurdles that would probably leave me nowhere. Thank you Vicky for always being there, and I love you very much.

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Relaxing evening of racing?

Few things help me relax like jumping onto my computer, firing up my favorite racing game and giving the other drivers hell. I find it quite strange that such an intense and adrenalin fueled sport can make me feel relaxed and at ease with my self. I enjoy nothing more than a good race, but a good race isn’t one where I start from pole and lead the whole race till the flag. It a race where I’ve started low down the order, where I’ve had to fight hard and long with other drivers of a single position and sometimes I might not come first but if I’ve had a good battle and I’ve felt like I have driven to my limit and even beyond it then I feel satisfied.

Winning isn’t important to me, it’s what takes part on the track. Some times it’s not even racing the other drivers, some times it’s just finding what limit I reach first the cars limit or my limit, it’s about improving my knowledge and experience, my desire is to one day do this for real, I don’t care if it’s 25 old men in battered old XR2i’s sliding around in the rain while 5 people look on from under an umbrella. I don’t care if I embarrass my self in the first corner and end up a lap down, I don’t care! all I want is the opportunity to try.

But back to the point, is it unusual that such an activity make me feel so relaxed, I suppose it’s the same for recreational surfers or those that go to the gym multiple times a day, 7 days a week.

What unusual activities do you enjoy that make you relaxed?

Any way, see you on the track!

Note: if you want to race some time I can be found through the various channels that are on my contact page and I welcome any challenge.

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