Monthly Archives: January 2012

Well that was a let down!

It’s been an odd week, primarily because it started on Saturday, the oddness that is, not the week. I had been very keen on the trip to astronomy clubs stargazing event, right up until Saturday afternoon, Sir Luke rang to say that he was on his way and he would be a matter of minutes, a bi earlier I’d bought the scopes down and sorted out all the necessary kit that I’d need for the evening. I’d sorted out a couple of spare laptop fans as one of the chaps had mentioned that his machine kept overheating and that its fan may be on the way out.

No sooner had I said ta ta to Luke I called him back and told him to go without me as I didn’t feel particularly chipper and thought it best if I stayed away as I wasn’t in a particularly good frame of mind and rather than sitting with a face like a yawning donkey I would stay home and spend the evening feeling sorry for myself. However like the good mate he is Luke took absolutely no notice of me and called in anyway, after a few minutes and strict instructions from herself to “naff off and have some fun!” we packed the scopes in the car and headed off.

If I’m honest I really enjoyed the evening, but I think I’d have enjoyed it more had my head been a bit more right, still the fixing of my head will take time but it’ll happen.

I was supposed to head off to the Kensington Olympia for the 2012 Toy Fair,I’d hoped that the finances would have become available in time, sadly they didn’t so I spoke to the designated driver on Monday and made the decision to give it a miss. I was very disappointed about this as I had been looking forward to the trip to the city and a rather sterling breakfast before the event.

So instead of going to London this morning, I was going to work, oh well!

It being Wednesday meant that we headed to the gym with some of the chaps, whilst they were making full use of what appears to be medieval torture equipment I went for a weigh-in, Since my last one, which was November(ish), since then I’ve lost 3 kilos which is, I think, a good thing. It’s definitely time to take stock and get to grips with the weight loss, my goal is two stone over the next six or seven months, how hard can it be?

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Stargazing, well if they weren’t obscured by flippin’ cloud I would’ve been!

I have two hobbies that are somewhat weather dependant, the first is fossil hunting, as long as it’s not throwing rain down in torrents it’s not too bad. Although I’d rather be breaking rocks in the hot sun… there’s a song on there somewhere! However if the weather is a bit unpleasant at least I can put on a waterproof coat and get on with it if I have to. Astronomy, however, is a different story altogether, for half of the year you NEED a warm coat, thick socks, thermals, a woolly hat, gloves, scarf and insulated footwear and that’s if it’s not raining. If it’s raining, give up go inside make a cuppa and settle down with either a good, non astronomy related, book or something on the telly. If there’s so much as a hint of cloud you should give up before you waste a couple of hours getting the scope put together, feeding a power cable to the back garden, at least four trips between the house and the garden carrying various bits of kit out. Then spend another hour ensuring the scope’s level and aligned. Another hour carrying out the alignment process, only to find that the star you used as your first alignment point wasn’t Kocab but was, in fact, Pherkad. This means that although your GoTo system says it’s successfully aligned, it lied! So you have to reset everything and start again. By the time you’re actually ready to do any real observing the clouds have rolled over or the Sun just went nova writing off your plans for the trip to beach to do a spot of fossil collecting the following weekend. Not only do I have two hobbies that are weather dependant, they’re also best shared with friends, collecting fossils with friends allows for conversation that doesn’t involve swearing at a lump of rock every time you whack your thumb, plus you can discuss your finds as and when they happen. If you happen to be collecting fossils with friends that also do astronomy you can also both have a moan about how rubbish the weather’s been recently. With astronomy the best you can do with a non event session is head to the pub or retire to the house for tea and cake, I never said that there wasn’t benefits to cloudy skies, if you’re lucky enough to get a good sky and not needing to spend half a century aligning your scope you can share the wonders of the universe with your like minded mates, who won’t beat you up because you saw Jupiter first or get into a heated argument about which make of scope is better.

In an effort to indulge my more nocturnally based hobby, fossil collecting’s not particularly easy in the dark, I headed off, with young sir Luke, to Woodchurch for the astronomy clubs Stargazing Live event. I’ve been a member of the society for about four years now and it’s gone from strength to strength. I’m a very proud and active member of the club and really enjoy my Friday nights, plus I have some cool mates through it too.

A lot of work went in to this years event, our chairman pulled out all the stops with an introductory talk on astronomy and the society, resurrecting old favourites like the Solar System on a string and the chocolate covered moon, Mankey took us through something called the Fermi something or other which basically explains how many planets there are with life on them in our galaxy. Because of the numbers involved I found it a bit confusing but it showed that there is a good chance that we’re not alone in the universe.

Drew then went through what we would have been looking at had the clouds been a bit more cooperative. It was then mentioned that Orion and Jupiter had come into view so I rushed out with my scope, connected to the power tank, dropped in an eyepiece, aimed it at Jupiter only to see it vanish behind the clouds. By this time I decided to give up on the evenings observing and packed the scope away.

I joined in with the final section of the evening, an open question and answer segment, I was introduced as the Sci-Fi guru, a title I quite like, particularly as I managed to answer a question about parallel universes using an episode of Doctor Who as a reference, I think my new titled sort of demanded it really.

All too soon the evening came to an end with the possibility of an evening at another Stargazing Live event at the Wye Downs, my attendance at this one will be dependant on whether or not Lukey boy goes.

So although the evening was a bit of a let down where the sky was concerned, I’m sure it did wonders for increasing the astronomy clubs numbers, I have also realised that all of my main hobbies, astronomy, fossils and gaming are all governed in some way by randomness, I also suspect that no one took my suggestion of burying a bottle of wine in the field near tonights venue seriously.

Belated Happy New Year

Well here we are bathing in the newness of 2012, huzzah! My Christmas break was quiet, and I received some cool gifts, including a small radio controlled car and a hand boiler. This is not, as the name suggest, a receptacle for boiling hands, but a glass tube with a bulb at each end. The middle bit is shaped into a spiral for one and a pretzel for the other. they both contain a coloured liquid, one red the other purple. When placed in the palm of your hand the liquid boils up through the tube into the other bulb, I have no clue how it works and to be honest I don ‘t want to, I think I’ll keep the mystery in this one.

On the Thursday before New Year I went up to Ashford, avoiding the zombies, for an evening of poker with some long standing mates, I was doing quite well and had some very good hands dealt to me, then the Manky one arrived and sucked out all my luck, ‘ang on, that sounds a lot weirder now I’ve written it down, so let’s say that my luck evaporated when Manks got there, I managed to stay in until the penultimate round, but I enjoyed the evening. There’s another poker night coming up soon, looking forward to that.

I’ve still not had a great deal of luck with the telescope, that’s the problem with living on the south east coast, all the bad weather and cloud seems to get funnelled up, or down, the channel. It would be nice if it were funnelled a little further south though.

One big let down for me over the Christmas break was the TV, it was utter pants, with all the available channels there was virtually naff all on. The Doctor Who special was alright, not brilliant, but I enjoyed it and thought that although it was a bit weak it could have been worse. I know of one chap that will completely disagree with me. I thought the recent adaptation of Treasure Island was very good, herself didn’t. I was very impressed with the return of Sherlock, I like Sherlock Holmes, I enjoyed reading the books and my ultimate Holmes is, of course, Jeremy Brett. But Benedict thingy has made the role his own in a fresh new style. I’m very much looking forward to the second episode, it’s an adaptation of Hound of the Baskervilles, which happens to be my favourite book.

Tuesday I went down to casa Luke for an episode of Firefly and some good conversing with friends, Firefly is one of the most under rated series ever, even though there’s only eleven episodes the characters were well written and as the viewer the storylines draw you in, I would really like to see more.

On the tech front I broke my phone over the holidays, which was a shame because after the disappointment of the POC that was the I8910 the Galaxy S2 is a fantastic bit of kit. Fortunately the phone is insured, but there were complications with the usage of the phone and my provider was initially apprehensive to replace it, but after enquiring about reducing the contract to a much lower tariff with the intention of cancelling it in a few months time I got a call from a customer service rep saying that the phone will be replaced after all, this was followed up with a lecture on being a bit more careful with the phone and making sure that if it gets broken again I have to ensure that the sim card’s in it when, or if, that happens. The second annoying moment in the world of my tech was the death of my laptop. The drive failed rather terminally, a temporary replacement has been found but a new drive will have to be bought very soon. I have a current tech project at the moment, this one’s not my fault, a workmate broke the screen on his Lappy, so I’ve sourced a replacement screen and I shall see if it fits tomorrow. I hope it does as it will result in some major kudos for me, but if it doesn’t and he gets a replacement that does I’ll be able to fit it.

Two things I’m looking forward to this months are the Astronomy clubs Stargazing live event, last years was a roaring success, and with luck we’ll have clear skies. On the 25th I head up to London Olympia for the Toy Fair, one of the best things about this event is the little place that Mike and I found to have breakfast, Yummo. A full report on both events will appear after they happened, DUH!

Hopefully 2012 will be a good year filled with fun activities and returns to old haunts

So a prosperous 2012 to you all and may all your hopes for the future be not too far off