Thursday, 25 May 2017

Norman Reedus (deserves a quality frame)

I have to say that I am very lucky indeed.  This amazing autographed picture was delivered to me last week.

Norman Reedus/Daryl Dixon
My awesome brother-in-law goes around the world designing film studios and has been doing a lot of work with Atlanta Studios, where The Walking Dead is filmed. I'm a huge Norman Reedus/Daryl Dixon fan and when I found out he was going there, I asked him to see if he could get me a signed photo.   Boy, did he come up trumps!

This beaut was sent by one of TWD producers to the head of Atlanta Studios, and then on to my BIL. It reached my hands last Sunday.  Of course, I had to order a frame for it straight away and decided it deserved more than a plastic one from Amazon, so went to Picture Frames Express.  The frame arrived today and it's fabulous.  Nice, new wood which smells just great.  The plexi-glass was covered both sides with protective film which you peeled off, so no finger marks or scratches anywhere.  Nice cream mount too.  Well wrapped, and couriered to me.  I'm delighted.

P.S. It was tough to get a photo on a nice sunny day like today without me or my feet or the room being reflected in it. I even crawled under the stairs to try but that was too dark!

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Linkin Park- One More Light

I'm a huge Linkin Park fan and have all their albums and have to say that, so far, I've enjoyed every one of them (well, the remixes on reanimated aren't so great but that's not a 'real' album is it).  Even A Thousand Suns, which many people didn't like, I found fantastic.  I loved the experimental style, the dialogue between tracks and the mix of light rock and the heavier Linkin Park style.  Different, but a really good album.

I received my copy of One More Light yesterday and whilst out on my walk today, I decided to give it a listen.  I can honestly say I was very, very disappointed.  I'm all for bands growing, improving and changing but this really is a major change.  If it wasn't for the recognition of the voices, I would never have said this was Linkin Park had I heard it playing somewhere else.  Sorry Linkin Park, but it really is poor.

With the exception of Heavy - which I quite like as a pop song - there is nothing I would choose to listen to again.  I thought that there was hope when Battle Symphony started but that quickly drained away.  Invisible, along with Heavy, are probably the two best songs on the album.  

I really hoped that the hype was wrong but sadly, on this occasion, it seems to be the case.  The first Linkin Park album that has been a real disappointment.

Friday, 19 May 2017

All Time Low

Yes, more music I've fallen in love with. This time it's All Time Low. This is their latest track but I have to say I love the albums Future Hearts and Nothing Personal.  Go listen if you've not heard of them before (or listen again if you have!).  

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Skiing and Flying (or walking)

Not out on the slopes, or throwing ourselves out of aircraft, but down at iFly and Skiplex in  Basingstoke again.  This time I went along. I can safely say I have zero flying ability.  I thought I wasn't too bad but this flight showed me I was.  I simply couldn't 'relax' enough to get any height. Oh well.

S was practising her walking in the tunnel this time, which she really enjoyed.  She had a high fly too.  The video of the instructor showing her how to run at the end was very funny.

J was awesome.  That girl really can fly!  She was practising turn round and moving forwards/backwards, up/down this time.  She's got it! 

N wasn't feeling great (and being her fairly usual grumpy self) and decided she didn't want to go skiing, so when S had finished flying, she had her first ever skiing lesson.  How is it that children just seem able to do these things without too much thought about it?

I decided not to book again this time as we're off on holiday soon and probably won't be coming back for a couple of months.  I know it's less cost effective to book afterwards online (more money and less flying time) but that't the way it works sometimes.  Shame they only give you 'on the day' options to get the flights for £29.99 each for 4 minutes.  It's a lot of pressure to do it there and then.  Come on iFly - we've been flying a while now. Surely you can offer better return flyer options than £39.99 for 2 minutes!

Monday, 15 May 2017

Virgin Holidays - Pick a price, any price

I'm fuming today.  We are off on holiday with Virgin Holidays soon and decided we wanted to upgrade our room. I phoned them up to confirm they had an upgrade room available - check - and got a price of £552 to do so - check.

Now, unfortunately Virgin have had to move our hotel due to the original one we booked not having balconies suitable for children.  Not an issue as the new one is very nice as well.  However, upgrading then isn't a simple task as it has to go through some other department.  So, after explaining this to me, I wanted for 'Anthony' to call me back.  I originally called at 9.20 this morning so by around 1.45 I called again.  The agent who answered said he was waiting for the department to get back to him.  Around 2.30pm he called.  They could upgrade me fine but the price had now gone up to £980!  WTF?

I queried this - as any sane person would - and was informed by Anthony that this was the price that they intermediary could get the room for.  I began to get irritated. How could he give me a price this morning of £552 and then come back to me with something close to DOUBLE this afternoon?  He said that was the price.  I informed him I'd spoken to the hotel directly and could upgrade for US$640 so where did they get that price from.  He said it was the price they were given. 

I asked for it to be queried. Apparently it had been. 

I asked for the price he gave me this morning to be honoured.  He could not do this.

I asked to speak to the department who were sorting this. I could not as they do not take calls from the public.

What a joke!  When we first had to move hotels, we asked about an upgrade.  We were told then it was £480.  We decided against it.  So today, to be told £552 - with changes in exchange rates - I found quite acceptable.   But this last figure of £980 was farcical!  

I queried whether they are now trying to recoup the money they have had to pay in moving us to a more expensive hotel - with balconies safe for children?  Anthony informs me that was not the case as the discount we got was still on there. Something here is very, very fishy!

So, Virgin Holidays, what the hell are you playing at?  Why do your staff give a quoted amount and then you do not honour it?  Do you allow your staff/departments to pluck random figures out of the air?  Really?  I think not!  So, come on, I'd love to know how the price jumped to this in a few hours!  Where's you mojo in sorting this out Virgin?

Black Veil Brides - In the End

I'm on a roll today. Another group I've discovered that you may like.  Adore these guys. If you listen to Kerrang, you'll hear a lot of this type of music.

I will also admit to having a little bit of a crush on the lead singer, Andy Biersack *grin*

Falling in Reverse - Loser

I love this song so much, I had to share it.  *Explicit language/lyrics alert*

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Chiropractor helping migraines

You may recall that migraines have become a permanent feature of my life in the past 18 months or so (Merina coil issues, continuing migraines, and the migraines are back posts to name but a few).  Having had a particularly nasty one around 5 weeks ago, during which I took almost 20 tablets in the day to try and stop it - Imigran, Codeine, Paracetamol, Ibuprofen and Metoclopramide - I was feeling a bit stressed out and, despite the migraine finally subsiding, I had a 'chemical headache' for 2 days afterwards.  Not  surprising given the amount of tablets I had to take.  

My teen, J, was rather worried about this and was looking up migraine treatments.  We'd already discovered the ear piercing but it wasn't something I was keen on as I'd also read an equal number of negative comments about it's effectiveness.  She came across a study of the benefits of seeing a chiropractor for migraines.  This is something I'd not considered before.  However, it seemed a good option and I decided to go for it.

I looked up a local chiropractor - Mark Walles - based in Woking and booked to see him.  I honestly wasn't sure it whether it would help, but having had as many migraines as I had (and was having), I was fully prepared to give it a shot.  After all, anything that cuts down the migraines or means I have to take less tablets has to be good right?

Image  credit: Mark Walles Chiropractic
I had my first session with Mark 4 weeks ago.  I completed a form to tell him all about my medical history and the problems I was having.  He asked lots of questions and felt that he could help, explaining the often the cause of the migraine was from misalignment of the spine and therefore the nerves being pressed upon. My neck was really tight and stiff when he assessed it.

It also appears that my lower back was out of alignment - most likely from my riding accident donkey's (or should that be 'horses') years ago.  He popped that back in, which felt much better (but afterwards like I'd been kicked in the back for a few days!).

Mark did some work on my neck to relax the muscles and tendons and then kind of manipulated it back into position. The creaking and cracking in my head was quite bizarre! However, I did feel like my neck was less tense afterwards.

I've seen Mark twice a week now and can honestly say my shoulders feel more relaxed and my neck less stiff. I certainly don't creak (as much) when I turn my head left and right.  It's not a miracle cure.  I have had two migraines this past fortnight, but they have been less severe and rather than focusing on my head and the pain in there when they occur, I rubbed my neck and focused on that and they eased off much faster.  I still needed some medication, but nothing like I had been taking!  Yesterday I had a migraine but only took 1 Imigran and 1 Metoclopramide tablet, and it had eased off in a few hours.  That, for me, is a real result!  

So, I believe going to Mark and undertaking some chiropractic treatments is helping a lot.  I would recommend anyone trying a chiropractor for migraines (or bad headaches), especially if you're having to take the number of tablets I was and being laid up for a day or more unable to function properly.  I appreciate it won't work for everyone, but it strikes me that doctors often focus on the symptom, not the cause.  Getting to the cause must be a good thing right?

I'll keep you posted on how I'm getting on.  

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Getting fast AP in Final Fantasy XV

I have completed Final Fantasy XV, all except for Costelmark Tower and the menace within. Having given it a go with my party as they stood (all Level 99 with 9,999 HP), I got absolutely nowhere.  Around 6 rooms in and I was dead.  Remember you can't use any of your healing items here so that's the issue.

Having had a quick scout on the Internet for suggestions as to how to defeat the daemons in this tower, I found that the best was was by using:

  1. 3 x Wind-up Lord Vexxos
  2. The ascension slot of 'Ultimate Powercraft' at 999 AP
  3. Having crafted spells of 99 of one element and 49 of another
  4. Eating Lasagna al Forno 

Well, #3 and #4 are certainly fine.  Nothing difficult there.

As for #1, that was easy. You need to go to Altissa and use the right-most arcade game which costs 10,000 Gil per game.  You'll find it where you can meet Alessio.  There is nothing difficult about playing this game, it's just a matter of patience as you need 99 gold bars (and they seem to be rewarded randomly) to obtain 1 Wind up Lord Vexxos.  That done, my biggest challenge was #3 - how to get enough AP fast!

Here's a really easy way. Head to Hammerhead and park up there.  Walk into the wasteland behind it and you'll see some Sabertusks running around.  Use your best weapon to warp-kill them all (I dropped all other parties' weapons down to their most basic to give me the best chance to kill all enemies - although even their lowest level weapons will kill in one strike).  These beasts are only Level 2 and spawn at 3 to 5 at a time.  Using the 'Summon Enemies' whistle, just stay in that spot and repeatedly call enemies. You'll end up with Sabertusks or Reapertails.  All easily despatched.   This way, in one Final Fantasy day (6am - 8pm) you can earn around 300 AP.  Back to Hammerhead and rest and do the same again for another 2 days or so and you've got your 999 AP to get this final magic ascension.

Monday, 1 May 2017

Take your child to work day

On Thursday of last week it was 'Take your child to work day' and S came with me to my workplace at university.  I work in the Careers Service (along with some teaching) and although it was a day I didn't work, I popped in for a few hours with her.

Settled her down after introducing her to everyone and she helped me get some information into a spreadsheet first of all.

Then she went and printed off some certificates I needed to do and did a bit of shredding for one of my colleagues.

Finally, she was helping with a book audit by counting each type of book in 4 different locations in the office.  It was after counting the 5th book type she came up to me and said 'I don't like doing this mummy, can we go now?'  Fair enough, but I didn't want to take her straight home so decided to show her around.

We headed down to Imagine which is a coffee shop with fun and funky furnishings. She loved trying the stuff out and her favourites were the over-sized deckchairs.

We then went into Founders Building and I took her to the library. Very busy with students studying for their upcoming exams but let her have a walk through (she got a lot of smiles).

Then we walked around the quads and headed back to the car.

She did enjoy her time but I guess it would have been better if it was a full day of my normal work.  Hopefully it will be next year.