The last three months

Sun behind clouds

How can it be the end of March already?!

It’s not just me, is it? Easter felt infeasibly early this year. I happened before the clocks went forward (from GMT to BST). In fact, it happened before it had even stopped snowing!

And now that Easter is passed, Jesus has risen again (Alleluia!) and in a strange way I feel as though I’m emerging back into the sunshine. Have I been hibernating for the last few months?

I’ve certainly been fighting more bugs than is healthy in the first three months of any year. I don’t remember any other year when I’ve been inundated with so many illness bugs, and viruses and the like. Just as soon as I’m getting over one the next wave of attack hits me. It’s not funny … I want it to stop. Please!

In many ways the last couple of months have been a whirlwind of activity and emotion, which has largely been responsible for the dearth of blog posts here this year.

I’ve pretty much been doing the following:

  1. Waiting
  2. Coding
  3. Reading

Waiting

When the calendar clicked over to 2008, a couple of months ago, and we got (another) green light from the hospital to say that our IVF treatment would begin (again) this year a strange thing happened: I felt a though I began to retreat into myself.

I’m not entirely sure why, except that I guess I wanted to protect myself and from the relative safety of my ‘inner cave’ examine how I felt about this enormous step we were about to embark on (again!). It’s not an all-together bad thing to do, all things considered. In some ways, quite responsible. (Perhaps this means that I must be a grown-up now.)

One of the hardest things about the whole IVF programme (so far) is the waiting.

There’s a lot of waiting.

And unlike many of the procedures involved in the In Vitro Fertilisation process it’s something that the man can do equally well as the woman. In fact, it’s something that they can do together … since they can’t do any of the other things that are normally involved in trying to start a family!

So we’ve been waiting. And waiting some more. And in between the waiting … well, actually it’s mostly been waiting if I’m honest.

At times it’s been quite unbearable. We just want to know. One way or the other.

Coding

For the last few weeks I’ve hardly known what to do with myself. I’ve felt like a kid waiting for Christmas.

Jane started on the IVF drugs in July 2007 and it dragged on and on and on. One more month, another month after that … and then in December it was cancelled. Brought to an abrupt halt.

We could have had a child in that time!!

So in order to distract myself I’ve been bringing work home with me. I’m currently working on a recoding of the University’s website. And with the recoding a bit of a design tweak here and there.

Bringing it home has given me something to focus on. Something consistent. Something that has a beginning and an end. Something that I have been able to create.

I’ve been really enjoying it too, which has been the important thing.

Reading

And when I’ve not been sitting in front of my monitors I’ve been reading. Sometimes curled up in bed, other times on the sofa keeping Jane company.

Here are a few of the books I’ve been waiting through.

So I’m still alive and well, just keeping my head low just now.

Just as well it doesn’t happen in the real world

This morning I’ve been cleaning up some CSS code for a redesign of some web pages.

Last week I got it working in rough, today I was cleaning it up. Giving classes proper names rather than things like “navTest”.

Except that somewhere between 09:30 and 12:30 I managed also to break something else. Another part of the page. A part that had nothing to do with the navigation that I was working on.

Just as well that doesn’t happen in the real world.

Foreman: Dave?

Dave the builder: Yeah!

Foreman: Did you just put in a new staircase on the third floor?

Dave the builder: Yeah, why?

Foreman: Because for some reason all the window frames on the ground floor have fallen out.

Dave the builder: Well, put them back in.

Foreman: I would, but they’re now the wrong size: they’re about 4 cm too wide now … and I think it’s your new staircase that’s affected them.

Time to put my debug hat on again.

Five artists, five songs

Five album covers on a white background

Mike Arthur tagged me to do the meme that is Five artists, five songs.

Here’s the challenge:

List your five favourite artists, your five favourite songs by those artists and tag five other people to do it.

I find this a really hard question, because it really depends on what day / week / month it is. It depends on what kind of mood I’m in or what I’m doing.

When I’m writing Web code, for example, I much prefer listening to industrial or thrash metal. I find the sound of white noise to be relaxing and conducive to concentration.

Maybe that’s just me.

Last.fm statistics

In terms of statistics, Last.fm can tell me which artists I play most frequently. Since I listen to most music in MP3 format on my PC I have a plugin that informs my Last.fm account which artists and songs I’m currently playing.

Since registering on Tuesday 6 Sep 2005 (which also happens to be Andrew Howie‘s birthday!) I’ve played 31,156 tracks while connected to Last.fm. And according to statistics from those tracks my top five most played artists are:

  1. Metallica
  2. Megadeth
  3. Sepoltura
  4. Slayer
  5. Iron Maiden

So, also based on my Last.fm stats, here are the top five tracks from these top five artists.

Metallica

  1. Nothing Else Matters
  2. Too Late, Too Late
  3. Sad But True
  4. Master of Puppets
  5. The Thing That Should Not Be

I’m not entirely sure why Too Late, Too Late, a cover of the Motörhead song, is listed so high. Nothing Else Matters is probably there because I’ve played along to it so often to learn how to play it on the guitar. The Thing That Should Not Be is just a great song, off an incredible album.

Megadeth

  1. Wake Up Dead
  2. Symphony Of Destruction
  3. Die Dead Enough
  4. Train Of Consequences
  5. Hanger 18

My favourite Megadeth album is 1994’s Youthanasia, from which Train Of Consequences comes, so I’m glad to see it in the top five. I’m surprised to see Die Dead Enough so high; that’s probably as much to do with random play as having selected that particular track.

Sepultura

  1. Convicted In Life
  2. False
  3. City of Dis
  4. Fighting On
  5. Inner Self

I’ve been playing a lot of Derrick Green-era Sepultura lately, rather than the classic Max Cavalera-era repertoire, which is clearly shown in my stats here. I saw Sepultura play in Glasgow a few years back: amazing!

Slayer

  1. Here Comes The Pain
  2. Behind The Crooked Cross
  3. Mandatory Suicide
  4. God Send Death
  5. Spirit In Black

An interesting selection of tracks from Slayer here; no doubt the result of playing my MP3s on random play. I’d have probably chosen Angel of Death, Rain In Blood, Seasons In The Abyss, 213 and Dead Skin Mask (not necessarily in that order).

Iron Maiden

  1. The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg
  2. 2 Minutes To Midnight
  3. Run To The Hills
  4. Flight Of Icarus
  5. Rime Of The Ancient Mariner

Again, an interesting selection thanks to playlist shuffling. I’d probably bump up Stranger In A Strange Land into the top five along with Paschendale and the entire Killers album from 1981!

Tagged

… and tag five other people to do it.

  1. Andrew Howie
  2. James Frost
  3. Rich Olyott
  4. Steve Lawson
  5. You!

Leave a comment if you like about your favourite artists and tracks

Room clearing

Having been playing Call of Duty 4 for the last couple of days I thought it would be useful to do a little homework and find out how to do “room clearing” properly.

“Room clearing” is about systematically working through a building making sure there are no “baddies”.

I found this video on YouTube … amusing.  This is how to “clear” (actually “clean”) a room using only mops and buckets!