Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Oh god I think I'm heading down the Kate Winslet route

I was shocked to see the BlackLOG didn't make the Times 100 top blogs. If I'm honest I doubt it would even make the Times 200 million top blogs but that does nothing to ease my sense of disappointment. Still what chance did I have when I'm up against such gems as Runningfromcamera.blogspot.com which features a Dutchman who puts his camera on self timer with a 2 seconds delay and then runs as fast as he can into each picture. So you don't even get to see the sad gits face. I guess I could set up a site with pictures of Bishops Stortford taken with the lens cap in place. If I call it something imaginative like picturesofBishopsStortfordwithlenscapinplace.blogsbollocks.com I'm bound to make next years Times top 200 Million Blogs. As an added bonus this creative site would allow people with broken PC's (sadly relevant if you read further on) or even the blind to enjoy the same pictures as everyone else.....I hope I get acknowledge soon otherwise years from now all that I will have left will be to making a pathetic Kate Winslet style speech.

Single handedly I am attempting to rescue our trashed local economy (well one shop, anyway). Not sure Mrs B sees it that way though.....
For my 20 year anniversary with my firm I received a length of service bonus which I had been looking to put towards a decent Digital SLR Camera. My father had been a Canon user and I had inherited his old Canon A1 35mm film so I naturally assumed that I was end up going down the Canon digital route. I had waited patiently for the release of the Canon EOS D5 Mark II and was preparing to make a purchase. While searching around for reviews I came across the Nikon D700 and found myself liking the sound of it more and more. I was also fortunate to read a number of direct comparison reviews between the cameras and it became clear to me that the Nikon would be more suitable for my needs. While the Canon is said to be superior for Landscape shots the Nikon beats it in every other aspect, portrait, sports, animals and Low light shooting. My one misgiving was that While the D700 has 12 Million pixels the Canon breezes in with almost double that. The gadget freak inside me kept screaming go for the most pixels, go for the most pixels. While the practical side said what do you need that amount of pixels for. OK, if I needed to blow the picture up so that it could be cover the house then the 21 million pixels would be what I need but there are only a few times in my life where I have needed this ability.

1) The time I wanted the house to look different for a national disguise your house competition .....

2) When Shuffler threatens to visit and I am not in the mood to see her (unlikely these days as she has sold her car)

3) When we have wanted McG to stay out and get some exercise. (I guess we could just lock the cat flap but where would the fun be in that)

4) When we come to sell the house and want to make it look bigger.

Besides finding such a big printer and large size paper might prove a bit of a bitch. The choice was made easier in the end as the D700 has been around for a few months I was able to pick it up for around half the price of the EOS D5 Mark II. So I have done something that I thought I would never do and changed my allegiance, going over to the dark side. Canon to a certain extent have themselves to blame, while almost every Nikon lens from the past 30 odd years still fit the new range of Nikon's, Canon have not been so obliging which has left my old lens collection obsolete and ultimately not tying me to the brand.

The next problem was that my research had told me that the kit lens sold with the D700 was one of the worse that Nikon had ever produced so I had purchased the body only (The strange thing about that is up to the point when I decided that I was going down the Nikon route instead of the Canon, Canon accessories seemed much more expensive. When I checked the day after I purchased the Nikon a whole reversal had taken place and Nikon prices seemed to have gone through the roof - how does that happen..... ). I had worked out what lens's I wanted and went onto the Internet to purchase them, a week later not one of them was available. The sites were all willing to take the orders and many said they had them in stock but it soon became clear that they did not. The result was that I managed to miss all the opportunity to take any decent snow shots. In desperation I contacted the local camera shop in Bishops Stortford expecting to have a laugh at the price they wanted and for them to bring out old stock from the 1950's. I have over the last few years become addicted to the Internet so it was a huge surprise to find that the prices were not only competitive but they also had the actual lens's I wanted in stock. I was down to the shop quicker than McG gets through his dinner.

Taken in action
The D700 even makes Bishops Stortford look romantic. If only I had left the Lens cap in place I could have launched the new web site....

Mischief keeping an eye on the competition

Our friend Kirsty said this photo made McG look like he had lost weight. Harsh, Kirsty, harsh. I'm too much of a gentleman to say what McG said about the photo's of Kirsty

Our friend Vinnie looks like a mean guitar player

My sisters cat Fluffy, not looking particularly fluffy

Mischief - looking less than impressed

I got some surprisingly good results just playing around taking shots of the cats and some friends so decided to take it with me to Mrs Bs sisters, JL's, Birthday party.

I'm not sure what happens to me when I meet up with JL's friends I seem to go into some warped overdrive. Last time I met them I was wearing a straw hat and for some reason, that even I can't explain, I refused to take it off all night (I'd like to put it down to being a bad hair day but to be honest I have been having bad hair days for most of my life and have given up worrying about it. In fact I have more of a problem on the rare occasions when I have good hair days because Mrs B then can't understand why my hair can't be like that all the time. Aaaarrrrggghhhh). I had totally forgotten about this event but was soon reminded of it, evidently it was the only thing that any of them remembered about me. For this latest meeting I spent half the party looking like a half crazed photographer snapping everything in sight before ending the evening in a dance off with a German break dancer called Clause. Not bad for someone who has not had a drink for 20 years. The dance off was going particularly badly when I slumped to the floor with one of those 'god what am I doing here moments' that afflicts people when sober and doing something spectacularly daft. I'm not sure where it came from but I launched into this whole rebirth routine, rising from the floor like a phoenix. I suspect it would not have looked good to anyone sober, fortunately the audience had not been holding back all night (thank god for free bars) and while there was no rapturous applause and standing ovation they seemed to approve in a blurry, sway back and forth kind of way. Poor Clause knew he was beaten and promptly resigned from the competition. If I had left it at that I probably would have got away with it but I guess it went to my head and I managed to blot my copy book by dancing with Mrs Bs dad as he was leaving. Even then I probably might have got away with it but for unfortunately the song that was playing happened to be Prince's "Sexy Mother F***er" Ouch. If I had not already given up drinking I probably would have had to so after this, does this mean I now have to give up going out sober?????

As a post script I managed to accidentally delete all the pictures on the memory card

Tears and much gnashing of teeth. How was I going to explain to JL that all the time I spent either blinding her guests or giving them flashburns, there were going to be no actual results.....

I managed to get a program from the Internet that retrieves deleted files.- Hope, so much hope

It worked and I managed to retrieve them all, - big celebrations

Then the home PC promptly crashed and died

Time to give up.....

It was the best of days is was the worst of days
After six weeks my brother in law Richard finally had his funeral service (If we learn anything from this it has to be don't die in France, the red tape is just horrendous). These events are always difficult but to find out how genuinely Richard was respected and loved in the Industry he worked in was uplifting. Mrs B and I realised that we had only seen a very small part of Richards life and it is testament to his character that he did not boast about his achievements. For anyone interested I have included a couple of links to memorial sights

Richard Spöhrer's Life in the Industry

Richard Spöhrer - Rest In Peace

Fittingly the final song for Richard was Monty Pythons "Always look on the bright side of Life" which summed up his attitude

Some things in life are bad
They can really make you mad
Other things just make you swear and curse.
When you're chewing on life's gristle
Don't grumble, give a whistle
And this'll help things turn out for the best...
And...always look on the bright side of life...
Always look on the light side of life...

If life seems jolly rotten
There's something you've forgotten
And that's to laugh and smile and dance and sing.
When you're feeling in the dumps
Don't be silly chumps
Just purse your lips and whistle - that's the thing.

And...always look on the bright side of life...
Always look on the light side of life...

For life is quite absurd
And death's the final word
You must always face the curtain with a bow.
Forget about your sin - give the audience a grin
Enjoy it - it's your last chance anyhow.

So always look on the bright side of death
Just before you draw your terminal breath

Life's a piece of shit
When you look at it
Life's a laugh and death's a joke, it's true.
You'll see it's all a show
Keep 'em laughing as you go
Just remember that the last laugh is on you.

And always look on the bright side of life...
Always look on the right side of life...
(Come on guys, cheer up!)
Always look on the bright side of life...
Always look on the bright side of life...
(Worse things happen at sea, you know.)
Always look on the bright side of life...
(I mean - what have you got to lose?)
(You know, you come from nothing - you're going back to nothing.
What have you lost? Nothing!)
Always look on the right side of life...

It got me thinking about how I would like to be remembered and what sort of memorial ceremony I would like. So far I have come up with

Being remembered
Ideally I would like people to be sad that I had gone but glad that they had known me. I doubt I will make a big splash in the world but hope I will at least make a little ripple

As for the ceremony
No ties - I just don't like them.
Nothing religious (gave up believing in god when my dad died - I like the idea of a supreme being, just not happy with the whole organised religion bit which just seems to have become corrupt to me)
Lots of music (still working on that list, hope I have a good 60 plus years to make the choice)

Now comes the difficult part for all of Richards family and friends, constructing a life which does not include him other than as a memory. That's it for another BlackLOG thanks for tuning in.

Friday, 6 February 2009

Featuring the breakfast in bed scam

With the weather causing havoc across the UK the BlackLOG household has not been exempt from the effects.
The BlackLOG homestead goes deep under cover

With the snow piling up outside, McG decided to stick to higher ground and refused to join Mischief downstairs for his breakfast. This was unusual behaviour for my food-obsessed furry buddy and so I broke with tradition and took the food up to him. (Yes Paul, I know I gave you major grief when you gave Mischief breakfast in bed, but this is a cat that, given half the chance, would spend his entire waking life head down in a food trough.) His little eyes lit up like Oxford Street in December and he munched his way through the food in record time. Cheeky little bugger tried it on the next day as well.........Not a chance. His breakfast in bed scam didn't work a second time. Half an hour later he slunk downstairs and munched away as normal.
McG decides that the weather is so bad
that it is not worth him going down stairs

I managed to drive Mrs B halfway to the station. (A big thanks to the Moron who tailgated me most of the way. He must have interpreted the driving advice to "Give people more space in winter conditions" as "Get as close as possible to the car in front, if possible touching bumpers".) I decided not to risk the steep hill going into town - getting down it would probably have been OK but stopping might have been a bit more interesting. Without four wheel drive, going up hills in snow is extremely hit and miss. As it was I was using our old VW Golf, knowing BMW's reputation for performance on ice. (I understand Todd Carty has more control. If you don't get that reference - count yourself lucky.) I looked up some driving tips for BMW's on the Internet and received the following encouraging info:

1) Don't.

2) Drive the wife's Fiesta (particularly useless as Mrs B does not drive a Fiesta).

3) Call a pickup truck before you set off and make them follow you. You then save time when the inevitable crash happens and you can be towed the rest of the way to your destination.

4) Get the pickup truck to tow the BMW directly to the destination. This not only saves time but saves on repairs to the car.

I tried taking the ElleGee out a couple of days later and it took me 20 minutes to get off my own property. Now that would not be a problem if we lived in hundreds of acres, but 40 metres.... that's almost as slow as the M25 on a Friday night, but still not as bad as getting out of Sainsbury's car park in the centre of Bishops Stortford.
Notice the lack of cat prints across the garden

If this was a picture by a famous artist it would be worth a fortune, as it is it is just a rubbish attempt to show snow falling at night

Quote of the week:
Teenage girl screeching to her mate in Bishops Stortford's high street "I'm Bleedin' Cold!" I didn't have the heart to point out to her that open toed thong-style summer sandals and a short skirt were probably not the best attire for winter months, especially with a foot of snow on the ground. What I thought was a particularly strange shade of blue stockings turned out to be her skin colour. Nice!!!!!

Concern for fellow Blogger
I am currently worried about the fate of one of my fellow Bloggers, after he received a strange Strange MMS message. It got me thinking that with the world in recession why would the down turn not affect the world of the supernatural. What you end up with is a very low Budget version of "The Ring". Instead of watching a video and getting a phone call, before being mysteriously found dead a couple of days later. The cash strapped supernatural entity is forced to combine the call and video into a single MMS message. The victim is then found bludgeoned to death with a copper plated pan lying next to them (You have to read Cynical Scribblers blog to get the significance of the Copper pan. Just click on the "Strange MMS message" link above).

It has been reported by an unnamed source close to CS (i.e made up by me) that CS is particularly worried about a recent Horoscope which said “Today would be a good day to avoid anyone with a manic expression, especially if they are carrying a pan…”

That's it for another BlackLOG. Fans of the " BlackLOG - Historical" should note that it is currently having a mid winter break but should return shortly. Don't forget to tune into the next BlackLOG and feel free to pass the link on to any friends who might enjoy it. Also don't forget you can make a comment, even if it is just to point out a spelling or grammar error that my Editor (Mrs B) has missed. Just Click on 'have your say' below