Wednesday 25 January 2012

Happy days...

The last 48 hours or so have been pretty good ones.  Barring the ones I spent failing to get to sleep, that is 8p

The artwork is going well.  I finished Stained Glass V on Saturday, started SG VI on Monday, and am very pleased with both.  River III and untitled variations no. IV are also coming along more or less as planned.  Piccies follow:

Stained Glass V (complete) & VI (WIP)

River III (WIP)

untitled variations no. IV (WIP)

Tim's been writing some music for one of my in-development animation projects, and it's very cool.  Not ready to be shown off yet, but it's one more reason I'm chirpy at the moment.

My new Lego arrived last night.  Made my evening, needless to say.  And before you all start saying "but I thought you were almost 24..." - there's no such thing as "too much Lego" or "too old for Lego"; those are myths invented by boring people.  I haven't had any new Lego in years, and I've tended to put Christmas and birthday money in savings, but this time round I decided I'd actually use some of the cash to buy something I wanted, so I ordered a custom-designed Lego set, with new equipment for Doctor Murkum's private militia.

Some of Murkum's men with their new uniforms, blasters and aircraft - the one in the blue fighter craft is Atkun, the chief engineer, and the one with the white top is Gonce, the cook.

The guinea pigs are gone.  I always said they were a bad idea, and eventually everyone else (except Sophie, of course) has come round to my view on the topic.  This morning, Ben and I were handed the offending rodents in a box and asked to take them for one last trip, in the general direction of an animal shelter on the far side of Wokingham.

I did get there in the end, no thanks to our satnav which spent the whole journey claiming it couldn't find a GPS signal, while I navigated using memory, road signs, and the odd atlas check by Ben.  I decided I don't like driving in Wokingham.  Too many confusing one-way streets and stuff.  But that's not the point - the point is, it might have looked for about four months like I'd lost the debate, but as of today I have absolutely definitely won.  No more pets bigger than a hamster in this house, I don't think.

Speaking of rodents: Dusty is quickly turning out to be a much better critter than the guinea pigs ever were.  He's followed Scribbles' footsteps, quite literally, taking his first evening stroll around my desk on Monday.  He tried nibbling all sorts of things (including the curtain), but fortunately seemed to decide he didn't like the taste of any of them.  I did get a bit worried when he started showing an interest in some coins I'd left lying around, and it looked for a moment as if he was about to stuff a 20p in his cheek and never give it back, but then he changed his mind and waddled off to taste the speaker cable instead.  He's incredibly similar to his predecessor, including having big tufts of hair growing out of his hips and making him look like some sort of overgrown fluffy earwig, and including a tendency to jump off the side of the desk and perform dusting services on the way down.

  • First 12 for '12 status: 10 down, 2 to go
  • Latest book read: part of 1 Kings from the KJV
  • Latest film/TV watched: Michael Palin's Sahara, part 2
  • Latest music listened to: Golden Cube OST (WIP) by Timothy Johnston
  • Latest edible item eaten: beefburger
  • Predominant colour of clothes: blue and grey on the outside; red t-shirt underneath
  • Programs and web pages currently running: Microsoft Office Outlook and Excel 2007, Firefox (tabs: Blogspot Dashboard; Blogspot Create Post; MatNav 6.1), Windows Media Player 11, Skype
  • Webcomics posted today: n/a

- The Colclough

Tuesday 17 January 2012

Excuses: A Luxury Assortment Pack

Pick an excuse; any excuse.  I've got loads for why I've lost "First 12 for '12" so badly, and you can take your pick as to which (if any) you feel like accepting.  What follows is a list of other stuff I've been doing instead of winning my own blog race...

Drawing big geometric doodles with Sharpie pens - as mentioned earlier.  Iteration 4 is now in progress.  No Sharpie yet, but I've plotted out the basic forms in pencil, and so far it looks more like a grapefruit than anything else.  Might show you a WIP photo eventually, but not yet.

Trying to design aliens - part of an ongoing (if intermittent) effort to work out what the major races of Universe XGT look like, in collaboration with Tim.  The designs range from ones sprung entirely from my own imagination, via some intermediate co-designed ones, to a few species where Tim has said what they look like and I've taken it upon myself to interpret that in pencil.  I've got one or two species presenting headaches at the moment, but once they're sorted out I might do a post featuring a selection of the drawings.  Maybe.  Watch this space.

Occasional cooking lessons - I haven't set fire to the kitchen yet, but I've had a go once or twice.  This afternoon's masterclass was in the preparation of pasta bolognaise, which turned out more or less edible.  However, I can't say I did it all myself, and I've got my doubts over whether it'd have been anywhere near as non-poisonous if I had.

Developing a bit of a musical superiority complex - I was given two CDs for Christmas, little sister got one too, and I have to say I think I got the better end of the deal, not just quantitatively but also qualitatively.  She had something by some chap called Michael W. Smith - whose parents, I can't help thinking, were rather clumsy to have missed out the 'H.' that everyone knows should come between the 'W.' and the 'Smith', but that's another story.  I had Jurassic Park OST by John Williams, and Karl Jenkins' Requiem.  From what I've heard of MW(H)S, he sounds like just-another-pop-singer sort of thing, and I can't say I'm especially impressed.

Jurassic Park, on the other hand, is John Williams at his finest.  If you let me count a whole film series (e.g. all six Star Wars episodes) as a single musical opus, then I'd probably say JP is outclassed by SW, and maybe also Indiana Jones, but in terms of musical achievement within a single film, I think I'd vote JP as Williams' masterpiece.

Requiem, meanwhile, is a bit of an odd album, but quite a fascinating one.  It actually comprises two unrelated suites of music, setting three separate text cycles in a total of four languages (Latin, Japanese, Welsh and English, in order of appearance).  The first, and by far the longer, of the two suites is the eponymous Requiem, and I've found it fascinating listening: considering that a Requiem, by definition, is a funerary work, a mass for the souls of the dead, it's a lot less sombre than you might expect.  Elegaic in places, yes, but in the end it's actually rather uplifting.

Keeping up with Sherlock and stuff - I've seen episodes 1.1 and 1.2 twice each, and 1.3, 2.1 and 2.2 once each, plus read the script for 1.2, so my do-list for the rest of this week includes catching up on 2.3 before it goes off iPlayer on Sunday evening.  Between Moffat and Gattiss writing at their best, and the brilliant casting and acting of Cumberbatch and Freeman, I've found all five episodes so far to be very good.  Much looking forward to the next one.  Before you ask, I can't make any comparison to the recent feature films, as I haven't seen those.  But I can compare Sherlock to Doctor Who, and I'd say the latest series of S (so far) has been much more rewarding viewing than the latest series of DW.

Completing the Root Hill DVD 2011! - yes, at long last.  The discs are in the post (well, most of them; I ran out of disc labels so the last few copies will be sent in a few days)... after four-and-a-half months in the planning and execution 8p

Writing the pilot script for a new animated series which might be the successor to Arbitrary Stopframe - when I laid AS Series 1 to rest back in December, I don't think I'd even come up with this idea.  It grew out of the production of Smells Interesting a couple of weeks later if I remember right.  The general concept is that it will feature three characters (new ones created specifically for the show), paper-cutout animation, and dialogue, with less emphasis on technical virtuosity relative to AS, and more emphasis on strange, random humour.  Maybe as much as 2 or 3 minutes per episode.  No idea how many episodes (if any) will end up getting made.  We shall have to wait and see.

  • First 12 for '12 status: 9 down, 3 to go - I've lost. Oh well.
  • Latest book read: the end of 2 Samuel from the KJV
  • Latest film/TV watched: Middlemarch (1994 BBC version), part 6 of 6
  • Latest music listened to: Requiem by Karl Jenkins
  • Latest edible item eaten: that spag bol
  • Predominant colour of clothes: shabby blue-greys again
  • Programs and web pages currently running: Microsoft Office Outlook and Word 2007, Firefox (tabs: MatNav 6.1; Blogspot Dashboard; Blogspot Create Post), Skype
  • Webcomics posted today: Fort Paradox Backstage

- The Colclough

Wednesday 11 January 2012

Been Busy With the Ink Again

I've been drawing and painting a bit more over the last few days.  I finished Stained Glass IV on Friday; yesterday saw the production of another 19 episodes of Cylinder and Miserable Series 3, and today I started work on two new paintings (River III and Stained Glass V) and completed the third in my ongoing series of untitled circle-centric Sharpie-on-cartridge-pad super-doodles.  I've got an idea for a possible name for the series, but I'm not saying anything until I've made up my mind whether I think it's a good one.  And I drew a mexican in a spacesuit, which I'll leave Josh to explain.

Photos follow, at the usual exchange rate of 1 photo = 1k words.

Stained Glass IV (18" x 24", completed 6th January)

To be honest, that didn't really come out how I intended, which is part of the reason I'm doing an SG V, this time using my new tube of Process Cyan.  But the relatives seemed to like it, as it disappeared off the kitchen table as soon as it was dry, and turned up again hanging off a nail in the stairwell, like so:

Stained Glass IV, A Dive in Blue and Open to Interpretation in situ on our staircase

untitled variations nos. I, II and III (all A2, completed circa October, 1 December and 11 January)

I already showed you variation I, but I re-posted the photo as a reminder of what came before.  And I should point out that the different colouration is due to the light conditions when I took the photos - the papers and inks are actually identical.  To some degree I see these three as a sort of trilogy, and although I have plans for a fourth instalment I suspect it'll be somewhat different to its predecessors.

SG V and River III aren't developed enough yet to be worth taking any photos of, so you'll just have to wait and see.

  • First 12 for '12 status: 8 down, 4 to go - I could try claiming I'm on 9, what with having written yesterday's Fort Paradox Backstage, but that wasn't on my main blog so it probably doesn't count, and I can't be bothered to quibble.
  • Latest book read: part of 2 Samuel from the KJV
  • Latest film/TV watched: Royal Institution Christmas Lectures 2011: Meet Your Brain, part 1
  • Latest music listened to: How to Train Your Dragon OST by John Powell, I think
  • Latest edible item eaten: jambolaya followed by coffee
  • Predominant colour of clothes: shabby blue-greys
  • Programs and web pages currently running: Microsoft Office Outlook, Word and Excel 2007, Firefox (tabs: MatNav 6.1; Blogspot Dashboard; Blogspot Create Post), Skype
  • Webcomics posted today: n/a

- The Colclough

Saturday 7 January 2012

22 Questions, 1 Clue

We've been doing this thing in my family over the last couple of months, where Mum gets a day off from cooking dinner, two of the rest of us plan and prepare a 3-course meal where as many ingredients as possible all start with the same letter, and the other two of us write and present a quiz themed around the same letter.

Today, we did the letter B, and I was on the quiz-writing side.  And I thought, since I've gone to the trouble of writing a quiz, I may as well get my money's worth and put it on here for you lot to have a look at.  I've deleted questions 13 and 14 because the answers were family in-references to start with, and then I worded question 14 so badly that none of the family knew what I was on about.  So you get the other 22 questions to chew over, ranging from the very easy to the potentially excruciating.

You get one clue for the whole quiz: every single answer starts with the letter B.  And you're not allowed to use Wikipedia except as a last resort!

  1. Which primary colour has the least number of cone cells in the human eye?
  2. What is the second-highest rank in the Anglican clergy?
  3. Which is the largest country in South America?
  4. What type of temporary skin defect is likely to appear after a burn?
  5. What Russian group, whose name means ‘the majority’, went on to become the country’s Communist Party?
  6. What form of private transport was first developed by various European inventors in the early-mid 19th century?
  7. The Hebrew word for which creature was the basis of the name Deborah?
  8. Which sport, included in the Olympics since 1992, uses a shuttlecock?
  9. Which UK county often has the word ‘Royal’ attached to its name?
  10. Which town in Hampshire contains Festival Place and The Anvil?
  11. In British usage, what word refers to the hinged panel covering a car’s engine?
  12. What region of Germany is known, among other things, for its motor works?
  13. QUESTION DELETED on grounds of extreme obscurity
  14. QUESTION DELETED on grounds of extreme obscurity
  15. What notorious incident took place in the Far East between 1898 and 1901?
  16. Which Sheffield-based confectioners first produced Liquorice Allsorts?
  17. Which classical composer carried on writing music despite going deaf?
  18. Which band is famous for, among other things, walking over a zebra crossing?
  19. Which animated film began life with the working title American Dog?
  20. Natwest, Lloyds and HSBC are all what?
  21. In the Star Wars trilogy, what is the name of the bounty hunter who takes Han Solo to Jabba the Hutt’s palace?
  22. What is the other common name of the mythical creature ‘Sasquatch’?
  23. What city is the capital of Belgium?
  24. What name is given to the lowest compartment in a ship, and to the water that collects there?

  • First 12 for '12 status: 7 down, 5 to go - past the half-way post
  • Latest book read: still A Brit Different
  • Latest film/TV watched: Wallace & Gromit's World of Invention
  • Latest music listened to: part of Adiemus II: Cantata Mundi by Karl Jenkins
  • Latest edible item eaten: chocolate
  • Predominant colour of clothes: reddish-brown
  • Programs and web pages currently running: Microsoft Office Outlook 2007, Firefox (tabs: MatNav 6.1; A White Horizon; Blogspot Create Post), Skype, Windows Media Player 11
  • Webcomics posted today: n/a

- The Colclough

Hello, You

I seem to say that to hamsters a lot.  Hello, you.  And as of this afternoon, we've got another hamster for me to say it to.

I've just come downstairs from watching Scribbles' successor move into his new home.  He's called Dusty, and is the spitting image of Scribbles two years ago - what with the similarity in appearance and the fact that we had both from the same pet centre, I can't help wondering if they're related.  Is Dusty Scribbles' great-nephew or something?  Who knows...

For the record, Dusty is Ben's third hamster, our seventh hamster overall, and our ninth rodent.  Yes, I've been counting.  Not sure exactly how old he is, but I'd hazard a guess of between one and two months.

I'm not allowed to handle him yet.  Nobody is until at least Tuesday, and even then it should really only be Ben and only very carefully.  I don't even have a photo to show you.  But I thought that his arrival should be noted here anyway.

The big thing for me, of course, is that I hope Dusty will continue the tradition of Ben's hamsters not biting me.  I'm quite fond of that tradition, as you might imagine.  I've forgiven Taffy for her toothy debut, but I still hope it won't be repeated.  We'll have to wait and see.

Oh, and I wonder if Dusty will continue Scribbles' habit of going to the toilet behind my monitor?

Me Stats:
  • First 12 for '12 status: 6 down, 6 to go - half-way to securing fourth place, I guess
  • Latest book read: still A Brit Different
  • Latest film/TV watched: Wallace & Gromit's World of Invention
  • Latest music listened to: can't remember
  • Latest edible item eaten: bit of chocolate; banoffee pie before that
  • Predominant colour of clothes: blues and greys
  • Programs and web pages currently running: Microsoft Office Outlook and Word 2007, Firefox (tabs: MatNav 6.1, twice; A White Horizon; Blogspot Create Post), Skype
  • Webcomics posted today: n/a

- The Colclough

Friday 6 January 2012

Live, Let Live, and Draw Weird Stuff

Just left a conversation (which I was mostly spectating) between Mum and Granddad about politics, colonialism, terrorism, news bias, and a lot of other cheerful stuff.  Was getting a bit down.  Thing is, there's all this miserable stuff in history where people decided to go and smite and conquer each other and set up empires and dominate the known world and all that, and the discussion inevitably turns to all the bloodshed involved in the colonial process, and every time the topic is raised it leaves me with two main feelings: "That's grim," and "But why?"

Seriously, what's the point in conquering other people and building an empire?  You'll only make people hate you.

I have no interest in conquering other bits of planet earth, really.  Okay, so it's fun to hypothesize about the weird and wonderful reforms I might wreak if I found myself in charge of the universe, but back in the real world, in all honesty I don't want to be bothering my head about the politics of other countries.  I'm perfectly happy to leave [insert name of country here] to do whatever [insert name of country here] wants to do, and get on with my own life.  I've seen a bit of India, for example, and I can't for the life of me see why my misguided ancestors made such a big deal out of being in charge of the blasted place.  You know what?  I don't want India.  I really, truly don't want it.  Umpteen miles away, far too hot, and full of virulent diseases and sacred beef.  As far as I'm concerned, the Indians can keep India.  I just want a little corner of this understated, soggy, weatherbeaten grey-green rock we call England, where I can keep myself to myself and write strange webcomics.  That's all I ask.  No empires here, ta.

Sorry if that was a bit depressing.  Wanted the catharsis after the chirpy conversation.  Will try to be more entertaining next time.

Stats from the Back of the Field:
  • First 12 for '12 status: 5 down, 7 to go - the gap has split wide open again, and I don't stand a chance of anything better than 3rd place, but oh well 8p
  • Latest book read: still A Brit Different
  • Latest film/TV watched: still Sherlock
  • Latest music listened to: can't remember
  • Latest edible item eaten: chilli con carne, then coffee
  • Predominant colour of clothes: blues and greys, blues and greys...
  • Programs and web pages currently running: Microsoft Office Outlook 2007, Firefox (tabs: Blogspot Dashboard; Blogspot Create Post; MatNav 6.1)
  • Webcomics posted today: n/a

- The Colclough

Thursday 5 January 2012

Preview Time for the Third Time

Root Hill 2011 was my sixth year attending the camp, and my third time as official videographer.  As per last year, I documented events with my Sony camera, and edited the footage in Sony Vegas.  Yes, there's a bit of a Sony theme going on there, despite the fact that Dad works for arch-rivals Samsung.  And as per both of the previous years I videoed (2008 and 2010), I have made a little trailer.

It's a bit different to my last two Root Hill on Camera trailers, this time using a pared-down "less is more" approach.  But I think that's a good thing, as it wouldn't do to just keep repeating the same old ideas and let them go stale.  Those of you who weren't there will probably be hopelessly confused, but for those who were: I hope you'll enjoy it.

Two things to watch out for in the trailer:
  1. Josh's reduced afro.
  2. The Mistake.  There's at least one 'error' that I'm aware of, but I decided I liked it so I let it stay.  I'll be interested to see if any of you can work out what I'm on about.

Just a bit of DVD menu authoring and disc burning to go, and then it's on to the post & packaging!

Okay, there wasn't much text in this post.  But then again, they say a picture is worth a thousand words, and Vegas tells me there are 2376 frames in this video, which - at least in theory - means it's worth approximately 2.4 million words.  And I think there should be bonus points awarded for Root-Hill-relatedness, maybe...

Statisticables, again:
  • First 12 for '12 status: 4 down, 8 to go - still at the back, but closing the gap
  • Latest book read: still A Brit Different
  • Latest film/TV watched: still Sherlock
  • Latest music listened to: Ode to Jim by Phil & Has, as featured in the Root Hill on Camera 2011 trailer
  • Latest edible item eaten: still that hot chocolate
  • Predominant colour of clothes: same stuff as earlier today
  • Programs and web pages currently running: Microsoft Office Outlook 2007, Firefox (tabs: MatNav 6.1; Blogspot Dashboard; Blogspot Create Post)
  • Webcomics posted today: n/a

- The Colclough

Sucrose, in All its Glory

Oh, giddy aunt, this is going badly.  As in badly badly.  At the time of writing, everyone else is on at least 5 posts (within less than 48 hours of the kickoff - they're all rabidly obsessed with this thing!), and I'm trailing the field with a rather dismal 2.  So here goes me, notching up my third post in a pathetic bid to regain at least a small shred of dignity before Sam, Hannah and Tim wipe me off the face of the blogosphere...

I'm going to talk about sugar this time.  I had a few different chocolates and things as Christmas presents, and now I intend to bore you, distract you or whatever by waffling on about them.  Confectionery as a form of revenge..., wait, I don't think that's going to serve it cold, is it.  Never mind, I'll just write the stuff anyway.

First arrival: jelly babies.

These turned up at the foot of my bed on the morning of the 25th.  I've always liked jelly babies.  More often than not, I will eat a single one in up to half a dozen very small bites, usually starting with the head and/or the feet.  This habit tends to annoy the relatives.  But as I see it, half a dozen smaller bits of jelly baby lasts up to half a dozen times as long as one full-sized jelly baby, so I get more for my money.

Second arrival: chocolate orange segments.

I can't remember who gave me the first box, but I've ended up with two.  Good job I like chocolate orange.

The second box also has a WHSmiths voucher inside, because I decided the chocolate box was probably the safest place for it at the time as the box is big enough for me not to lose it easily.

Third arrival: dolly mixtures.

If you thought it was bad that I can eat a jelly baby in multiple bits, you've got another think coming: I can and will even do the same thing to a dolly mixture.  In fact, to prove a point, I recently halved one, eating one of the two pieces at each stage, until I ended up with 1/1024th of a dolly mixture.  I should point out that I don't normally take it to that extreme; as I said, I was proving a point.

I've been keen on dolly mixtures for even longer than jelly babies, I think, and so much so that I've got a CGI short film in development about a robot that works in a dolly-mixture factory.  I'll keep you posted on that one.

Fourth arrival: little anonymous chocolate pencil thing.

Can't comment on it as I haven't eaten it yet.

Fifth arrival: Whittards cinnamon hot chocolate.

Like ordinary hot chocolate powder, but with added cinnamon.  Had 3 mugs so far.  Very nice.

Sixth arrival: miniature Snickers and Bounty bites out of somebody else's Celebrations packs.

Siblings wanted to trade for some of my chocolate orange bits, and I got the Snickers and the Bounties because the siblings aren't so keen on those ones.

Seventh arrival: a Double Decker bar.

I'm quite partial to these things, but hardly ever get one ('hardly ever' as in one or two a year at best), so it was a very pleasant surprise when Cat left one on my desk for me this afternoon.

I think that covers all the edible stuff I've currently got on my desk (no, wait - there's also a tiny, very random packet of salt.  Don't ask; I don't know any more).  And hopefully means I'm losing horribly by one less post.

Which of those seven do you like best?

You Can Put Numbers on Failure:
  • First 12 for '12 status: 3 down, 9 to go - now trailing the field by two posts
  • Latest book read: still A Brit Different
  • Latest film/TV watched: still Sherlock
  • Latest music listened to: still the Karl Jenkins stuff
  • Latest edible item eaten: another hot chocolate (mint one this time)
  • Predominant colour of clothes: same stuff as earlier today
  • Programs and web pages currently running: Microsoft Office Outlook and Word 2007, Firefox (tabs: MatNav 6.1; Blogspot Dashboard; my previous post; Sam's blog; Blogspot Create Post)
  • Webcomics posted today: n/a

- The Colclough

Mugs Illustrated

I was sitting here just now, staring blankly at a "Create Post" screen and wondering what to fill it with, and absently finishing the dregs of my mid-morning coffee out of a new "I ♥ Spreadsheets" mug I had for Christmas, when the mug supplied a spark of inspiration.

I'm afraid you're about to read a summary of my mug collection.  But don't worry, there'll be pretty pictures to distract you and ease your suffering.

Mug #1: the one on the front of my skull

(Wait, did I say "pretty pictures to ease your suffering"?  My apologies; I might have worded that one a bit wrong.)

I've had this one for 24 years (albeit with some alterations, e.g. shaving the stubble, picking zits, etc), and it's still doing good service.  At least, it is from my point of view.  Whether you lot think it's any good is another question.

Okay, that one was a bit facetious.  (Did you spot that terrible pun?  Face... Face-tious?  Never mind...)  The rest of the mugs listed here will be the usual, ceramic, liquid-holding variety.  Honest.

Mug #2: the one with the cartoon ark on it

This was the oldest ceramic mug that actually belongs (or rather, belonged) to me.  I won it as the prize in a Sunday School competition when I was living in Cardiff, probably in 1994 ish.  It faded over the years to the point where the picture was practically indistinguishable, and the surface started getting that funny texture some old mugs have which makes you doubt their ongoing ability to hold liquids properly.  I don't have a photo, as it got put in the bin over Christmas to make room for new acquisitions.

Also, I'd been gradually developing misgivings over the engineering (and theological) implications of the cartoon ark.  This article here summarises the school of thought on Ark design which I subscribe to.

Mug #3: the Romanian one

I had a mug once which I acquired at one of those missionary craft sale whatsits, for about £1.  Apparently it was made in Romania.  I have no idea what happened to it, but I haven't seen it in years.

Mug #4: the one with Tigger on it

There are two things you need to know, in order for this one to make any sense:
  1. I am not a morning person.  I don't exist before 9 am, unless persecuted by an alarm clock.
  2. some people don't subscribe to the concept of breakfast, but I am not one of those people.  Eats are usually my first priority after leaving the duvet, and the ritual usually features a large mug of cowjuice.
Apparently the parents didn't realise this mug had Tigger on the back; they bought it for me as a joke because it says 'bounce' on the front, which is a suitably ironic slogan for me to stare at during brekky.  I don't mind Tigger though.

Mug #5: the one that drops unsubtle hints about my taste in films

Not sure when or where we acquired this one, and it technically isn't mine, but Cat left it behind when she moved out and now I'm usually the one that uses it, so it gets an honourary mention on my list.  And I do like the Lord of the Rings trilogy, so that's worked out well.

Mug #6: the one with the phantom koala

I sent my parents and siblings all the way to Australia just to get me a Taronga Zoo Sydney mug.  True story.  Sorta.  Sadly it hasn't stood up well to the test of time (or more to the point, it hasn't stood up well to repeated trips through the dishwasher) and the koala photo has turned into a wraith, but the mug still works as a mug in spite of its ghostly markings.

Mug #7: the one that asserts my authority as the IT expert
I have a soft spot for this one.  Partly because of the size and shape, and partly because little sister has been known to take the instruction on the back at face value, and actually bow down to my superior knowledge.

Mug #8: the big blue one

Does what it says on the tin, really.  It's big.  It's also blue.  TARDIS blue, more or less.  It alternates on an irregular basis with Tigger (because they're the two largest mugs I've got) as my vessel of choice for taking the morning cowjuice.

Mug #9: the stripey one

Again, does what it says on the tin.  Has stripes.  Nice, big, obvious ones, just to emphasise that yes, this is a really, genuinely stripey mug.  Might have been a Christmas present last year.

Mug #10: the handmade one

I acquired this one as a Christmas present, having chosen it at a craft fair the family and I went along to back in November.  Since they're handmade, no two are quite the same, so I spent a fair while picking different ones up and trying to simulate how the various handles would feel while I clutched a coffee.  Don't worry, I stopped short of actually putting them in my mouth.  I don't think that would have made the potter very happy.

I then forgot about the mug, and was pleasantly surprised to rediscover it inside one of my presents last week.

Mug #11: the one that admits I'm an Excel junkie

Another Christmas present.  It says "I ♥ Spreadsheets" (as you probably noticed in the photo), and that's absolutely true.  I love collecting useless information and putting it into big, colour-coded Excel files - you should see the sheet I've made to calculate arcane statistics re: Fort Paradox...

  • First 12 for '12 status: 2 down, 10 to go - reduced to third place 8p
  • Latest book read: A Brit Different: A Guide to the Eccentric Events and Curious Contests of Britain
  • Latest film/TV watched: Sherlock 2.1: A Scandal in Belgravia
  • Latest music listened to: Assorted things by Karl Jenkins (I think Requiem, In These Stones Horizons Sing, Diamond Music, and Adiemus IV: The Eternal Knot in that order)
  • Latest edible item eaten: Doritos, and coffee
  • Predominant colour of clothes: same stuff as yesterday
  • Programs and web pages currently running: Microsoft Office Outlook 2007, Firefox (tabs: Blogspot Dashboard; my previous post; Blogspot Create Post; MatNav 6.1; Tim's latest post; Sam's blog)
  • Webcomics posted today: n/a

- The Colclough

Wednesday 4 January 2012


The starting gun has fired!  Registration is closed, and at least half of the four contestants have already hit the ground running.  I suspected in advance that Hannah would be writing in the small hours of this morning, which she did, but I didn't expect the same from Tim - who did anyway.  Sam hasn't posted anything for the challenge yet, but something tells me he probably will do very soon.

So I'd better catch up on this "First 12 for '12" thing, hadn't I...

I thought I'd have a bit of a ramble about Christmas while it's still relatively early in the year (just had a conversation with Mum about what we did on the evening of the 25th, and we're already struggling to remember).  That's where the cryptic blog title comes in.

For a large chunk of Advent, we had a cardboard box, about 3' x 2'1" x 3", stood on the middle landing half-way up our stairs, with no markings except the number "513044" hand-written on it in red ink.  It was taken for granted that it was a Christmas present, and no more questions were asked (at least not openly), but it exercised my curiosity for a good couple of weeks before disappearing shortly before Christmas Eve.

For assorted reasons, we ended up having our 'family Christmas' on Tuesday the 27th, so that was when 513044 came out of the woodwork.  Turned out it was for me, and it contained two 24"-square canvases, two 14" x 10" ones, and three new paints: process cyan, process magenta, and process black - yes, I do have other, non-process colours.  So later on in the morning I beetled off into the kitchen, put one of the 14x10s on the table, and started slathering it with the cyan and a titanium white (which my grandparents had given me on Christmas Day along with three 16x12 canvases), with the odd streak of the magenta.  The result isn't exactly a realist masterpiece, but I was mainly interested in seeing how the new pigments would behave, and the answer to that question is that they did exactly what I wanted them to do, which was a pleasant change after the odd behaviour of some of my other acrylics (I'm looking at you, mars black).  Here's a piccy:

Pick a Day, Any Day - 14" x 10", Tuesday 27 December 2011

The title came about partly because of the resemblance between this canvas and one of its predecessors, Another Day, combined with its similarity to the 'water vortex' in the promotional material which preceded the release of Doctor Who Series 5 with the accopmanying tagline "All of time and space - where do you want to start?".  Somehow, all those notions found their way into my brain at once, and got conflated into a title for the painting.

I have plans for how to use at least one each of the 24x24s and the 16x12s, plus Stained Glass IV and a third untitled variations drawing already in progress, so hopefully you can look forward to (or dread, I guess) being exposed to some more photos of my artistic output over the next few weeks, as 513044 comes into its own.

  • First 12 for '12 status: 1 down, 11 to go - the same as almost everybody else in the running
  • Latest book read: A Brit Different: A Guide to the Eccentric Events and Curious Contests of Britain
  • Latest film/TV watched: The Gathering Storm
  • Latest music listened to: Diamond Music by Karl Jenkins, preceded by his Requiem and In These Stones Horizons Sing
  • Latest edible item eaten: I had a shortbread cookie for breakfast
  • Predominant colour of clothes: blue/grey (the old story)
  • Programs and web pages currently running: Microsoft Office Outlook 2007, Firefox (tabs: Fort Paradox offline archive; Blogspot Create Post; MatNav 6.1)
  • Webcomics posted today: n/a

- The Colclough

Monday 2 January 2012

Gauntlet Meets Floor

Okay, new year.  2012 is go.  And I think it might be time for another blogging challenge.

This time last year, Hannah Newcombe and I were kicking off a blog race called "First 11 for '11", the idea being that the first one to write their first 11 posts for the new year would win.

Hannah won. I'm calling a rematch.  I should probably have posted this sometime in December, but it got squeezed out in all the Christmas rush, so I'm posting it now instead.  The point is: I hereby challenge Hannah, and anybody else who wants to join the bandwagon, to write their "First 12 for '12".  The entry criteria are very simple:
  1. You must be me, Hannah, or somebody else who knows me.  Yes, Sam, that means you're eligible to join in.  (*fixes spelling* - I hate the word 'eligible', by the way; I always seem to misspell the darn thing)
  2. You'll need a blog (obviously).  If you don't have one but would like to join in, then you are allowed to start a blog for the purposes of participating in this challenge.  You'll find the people at helpful, especially if you've already got a Google account.
The rules are pretty simple too:
  1. You must register your participation by leaving a comment on this post.  Unless you're Hannah, that is, in which case your participation is compulsory because you haven't posted in more than 3 months and it's about time somebody got you back to da blog.
  2. You must write 12 substantial and meaningful blog posts in the shortest possible timeframe, starting with a clean slate at or after 0000.01 hours on the morning of Wednesday 4 January 2012 (this post doesn't count, as it wouldn't be fair for me to get a head start like that).  You're allowed to start having ideas for your posts before midight, but not to start writing them up.  The 'substantial and meaningful' clause means that Twitter-style micro-posts don't count, and each post has to comprise a minimum of a few paragraphs' worth on an interesting topic, or at least a paragraph each on several smaller topics.
  3. You must include some statistics at the end of each post: compulsory stats include your Challenge status (i.e. how many "First 12 for '12" posts you've written, including the current one), Latest book read (or currently reading), Latest film/TV watched, Latest music listened to, Latest edible item eaten/drunk, Predominant colour(s) of the clothes you're wearing at the time of writing, and Programs and web pages currently open on your computer.  Plus anything else you want to add.
  4. You must leave at least one comment on each post that is written as part of the challenge by any of your rivals.
  5. First to 12 wins.
There you have it.

And now, having challenged people, I suppose I'd better start having some ideas on what to write myself...

- The Colclough