Posts in category personal - page 6

Back in mostly one piece

I’m back home again after our whirlwind of activities in Southampton.

The indoor carting was quite cool fun although as usual the carts felt too slow and the indoor surface meant sliding on every corner regardless of slowing down so no attempt at fine tuning those race lines to the edge of your tires. Well, maybe there was, but I wasn’t slowing down enough to find it.

Clay pigeon shooting was fantastic. It’s the first time in my life I’ve fire a real gun and this was a double-barreled Beretta shotgun. I did pretty well and came third in our group behind a friend who used to play for Guernsey and another friends father who’d done it a long time ago. I even beat the whole team on one set that involved overhead clay pigeons although the debris did manage to fall down and hit my in the small of the back.

The comedy club was quite good although there was a fair amount of heckling at the start from a small group. The compère went to great lengths to try and shut them up with a variety of put downs but in the end had to have them removed. The New Zealand guy was pretty fast ‘n humorous but then pick on some guy who’s girl went and sat next to another guy to the point where the woman ended up walking out and the guy stood up and told him to get on with his act and stop picking on them before running out after his girlfriend.


Our table was absolutely covered in bottles of beer us having ordered ice buckets of 5 bottles of beers each – not actually that much all considered but it did look a LOT and put it in some kind of perspective.

The second guy on was much slower and less in your face being a bit of a stoner with a crazy shirt.

At this point my headache from earlier in the evening kicked into overdrive and having made my apologies to the groom-to-be I ambled back to the hotel along the streets of Southampton. My brain had helpfully made some sort of semi-conscious route and I found myself back at our Ibis by 10pm.

There the headache took full force and the fact our Window wouldn’t close properly became a problem with my headache and the noise outside. My room-mate Glyn was quite patient with my as a ran a wet towel and placed it on my head. The Ibis guy, who was possibly Dutch but definitely weird came up and failed to fix our Window with his miniature set of tools.

Thankfully I found my sponge earplugs in my pockets from that days shooting and plugged them into my ears for a reasonable nights sleep.

Sunday was paintball day and we set off on a McDonald’s breakfast (we tried to find other places serving hot food but were running out of time).

I managed quite well not getting shot until about the 4th game where I got a hand-splat to my glove. The enemy team were cheating a bit at this point and we had to start getting marshals to go over and point out to them that yes, they were covered in paint and should report to the dead zone.

I eventually got shot on my head which although hurt like crazy for a few seconds soon went down and hasn’t left a bump.

Unfortunately in the last game, a free-for-all, some European girl decided to shoot my bottom from quite close range as I ran through the undergrowth and so I took a big bruise. I always seem to get one at paintball but I thought I’d managed to avoid it until then.

All in all a very good weekend and apart from antlers and pink hair the stag got off quite lightly especially compared to my brother-in-law’s one in Prague.

Tired now, good-night!


A penny for your Guy thoughts

So, it’s that time of year again.

The 5th of November. Bonfire night. Guy Fawkes.

And so, with the apt smell of damp gunpowder in the air, we headed down to my friends James’ parents house and met up with the usual suspects, their partners and additional family members for a good show.

Earlier this week V for Vendetta had put me very much in the mood for the holiday. It is an unusual take on the whole Gunpowder Plot and how it inspires the citizens of a police-state London run by a dictator to stand up and take their country back. Whilst I don’t agree with violence to achieve political change it was a not too subtle reminder about keeping our governments in control and making sure they remember who serves who.

I digress.

The fireworks were self-organized being the explosive equivalent of bring a bottle and so I handed over my obligatory couple of packets of fist sized rockets I’d managed to purchase just as Oatlands ran out. I think the guy behind me got the last two packets – and that’s only because I decided not to take four and deprive him of any.

The display went mostly without a hitch although the lack of wind dropped the odd spent rocket fuselage back down to the ignition team and one firework return to the ground before exploding. Luckily nobody was injured – most had the sense to run away and the team was spared for next year. Notably absent from this years lineup of fire-starters was Jamie who is away practicing being smug at university in England.

We ate hot-dogs and the Guernsey specialty, bean-jar, consuming them and drinks in the marquee (except the designated driving few – alas myself included).

We chilled out and so wombled over to the bonfire and warmed back up all the while chatting and enjoying the dancing lights in the sky. As a plane came in low heading towards the airport I made a mental note never to fly on November 5th.

Alas things took an ugly turn as the police arrived.

James’ uncle’s new Land Rover was parked out by the seafront and had been intentionally vandalized. Specifically the front two tires had been let down and the bonnet (hood) had been badly scratched up – perhaps with something sharp like a screwdriver.

About 20 minutes later we were informed by an officer that a neighbor had been arrested and was being taken to the station – presumably on criminal damage charges.

And thus ends the story of our 5th of November. Take care!


The nine finger grip of death

A few weeks ago I got a cut, mysteriously, on my left middle finger right on the outer knuckle joint. In fact on the very spot of an old scar – I forget which of my many little incidents caused that one but it probably involved a BMX and my childhood thirst to perform tricks beyond my ability.

Anyway, this cut bubbled up into a nasty looking thing. A tower of bubble, bubble within a bubble.

It looked a bit like a wart but softer, sensitive and with a propensity to start bleeding from the slightest knock as my friends found out a few weeks ago when I ended up spraying an interesting red pattern across my favorite white shirt downstairs at a local bar.

Like most guys I left it for a week, two, three maybe (the finger, not the shirt) before finally admitting there was a problem that wasn’t going to magically disappear and headed to the doctor. It was diagnosed as something long, Latin and specifically chosen so that us mere mortals would not remember it’s name let alone how to spell it to put on our blogs.

Today I got to sit in a chair whist my finger was numbed, the blood flow restricted then the bubble cut off (to be sent away for analysis no less).

That was fine, apart from the moment my curiosity got the better of me and I looked down and glimpsed all the blood. As previously alluded to I’ve seen my blood more than enough times so that didn’t bother me too much.

What was strange is I suddenly got very hot and was regretting wearing clothes. Despite my mental reassurances that all was fine and that I was in safe hands my stomach threw a wave of nausea over me and my eyesight blurred.

Thankfully the doctor noticed I was looking a bit faint, well green he said, and the nurse made me feel more comfortable before I do something awkward like fall off the bed and crack my head open.

The next stage was the scraping and scooping out of the inside of my finger. I couldn’t feel it directly but I could feel the scraping movement reverberating through my fingers, my bone, my hand.

Once done the skin was cauterized, i.e. burnt and the smell of burning flesh reached my nose shortly before the nurse cleaned it up and bandaged it.

So here I am, bashing at my Model M as best I can with my remaining functional digits.

Back to work tomorrow alas, the deadline looming.

The keyboard there shall feel my nine finger grip of death.


Yukky picture alert – my burnt finger for those that asked.

Reflections on Damien Guard, BSc (Hons)

Taking a computer science honours degree in your spare time is a massive commitment and one that I’m not sure I would have embarked upon had I appreciated just how long the road would be when I started back in 1998.

It has taken me 9 courses, 7 years, 46 assignments, 8 exams and 1 final project (a mini-eBay).

The number of hours is difficult to calculate but the £3,500 fees is quite reasonable considering what full-time university fees amount to. This figure however was with a UK education subsidy which will no longer apply to students in the Channel Islands from next year so expect to pay about double that now.

During these 7 years I’ve moved house 5 times, relocated to another country twice, gone from employed to self-employed, changed car 3 times, motorcycle twice and worked on a number of interesting and great projects professionally.

I’ve changed so much on the way but I’m glad I saw it through to it’s conclusion (providing somehow I didn’t fail the exam and have to do another year of study!)

Here’s how it went, in reverse chronological order:

Those not hyper-linked are no longer offered as the OU have been quite swift in replacing courses as technology moves on. It is however a shame to see their low-level T223 course go as it was probably my favorite.

M360 was probably my least favorite as the Java based web development environment we were given to use was rather unimpressive and no doubt antiquated compared to modern Java platforms.

Now what am I going to do with all this spare time?

Perhaps a little more out-of-hours work, a little more fun and maybe even a bit more time to dabble with some pet projects – open source and otherwise.