Nine Inch Nails – Year Zero

A trailer clip for Nine Inch Nails upcoming album Year Zero was released today and I’m sitting here, taking some time out from coding, listening to the tracks from it which were recently “leaked”.

The tracks are: “Survivalism”(the forthcoming single,) “My Violent Heart” and “Me, I’m Not”. It’s these last 2 which were discovered on USB drives in toilet cubicles at a couple of recent gigs. The files are all 320 kbit/s CBR MP3s and I’ve had the 3 of them on repeat. I can’t wait until the final album is released!

Early Morning Swim

Breaststroke - Top ViewThe alarm went off at 6:30am, I got up, put the coffee machine on and went to the bathroom. I’d finished my breakfast by 6:45am which consisted of ground oats, semi-skimmed milk and whey protein, blended. The stage was set and after a couple mugs of java I was good to go.

I had often toyed with the idea of getting my training done and out of the way before work, leaving me with the rest of the day to relax, recover and enjoy the endorphins. Due to concerns with time management, pre-workout nutrition and apathy I never took the plunge, but yesterday I was feeling the need for a break from weight training and decided that some cardio would be a good idea. Skipping my Thursday night session was difficult but I don’t think my body could have tolerated it, so I checked the opening times and began making preparations.

The dry ingredients of my breakfast were weighed and left out alongside my vitamin and fish-oil capsules, I shaved, adjusted my alarm and got into bed a half hour earlier than normal. I got stuck into The Iluminatus! Trilogy for a bit, but as has been the norm for the past while, I found it difficult to sleep, my mind awash with what I was going to do the following day. I woke naturally at exactly 5:30am, went back to sleep and thankfully arose an hour later without any serious impediments, ready to take on the self-imposed challenge.

It was dark when I left my flat and I was surprised to see as much traffic and as many people as I did. I also thought that the gym would be more or less deserted at 7:30 on a Friday morning, but there was a healthy throng of fanatics present. Swimming has been dropped from my routine over the past months as I decreased the amount of cardio I was doing to focus more on strength, so I didn’t know what my performance would be like when I got into the water. My original plan was to do 50 lengths of breaststroke and although I found it tough going, when I got to 50 I decided to go for another 20 and my total time wasn’t too far off what I was achieving when I was swimming regularly.

I got into the office about 10 minutes later than usual, feeling good. I think morning workouts will become a staple in my lifestyle, although I don’t know if I’ll get back into swimming regularly: I could feel all the old familiar aches and pains to a small extent but what really got me was the monotony of only being able to do one type of stroke and doing that same stroke for the entire duration. I am looking forward though to finding out what the weights room is like at that time of the morning. Now for some food.

Blades By Mail

My shipment from arrived this morning:

Blades - Unopened Package

I put the order through on Monday morning for a “Pillar Pack” of 100 double-edge razor blades which I’m hoping will last me for the duration of the next year:

Blades - Opened Package

The pack contains 20 dispensers, each delivering 5 blades:

Blades - Pack And Dispenser

I originally read about the traditional wetshave on Lifehacker, but paid no heed to it until one fateful day in Boots when I was in need of blades and low on cash and noticed how much of a difference in price there was between the “novelty” multi-blade shaving systems and the traditional single-blade setup. I was game and took the plunge. The next morning I gave it a go: my hands were trembling and my face was left resembling a butchers block but something about the experience kept me coming back for more.

Blades - Single Blade

As the calendar progressed my skill with the blade has improved and the time required each morning has decreased. I still get a bit of razor burn but I don’t nick myself anywhere near as often. I’ve also upgraded from a shaving gel to using a brush, mug and shave cream to produce a lather for my face.

It’s all time consuming and the perfect shave still eludes me but this purchase (including postage) only left my debit card £14.85 worse off. To buy that quantity of blades in packs of 10 would have cost me £30 in Boots, so that’s a possible saving of £15.15 over the course of a year. 4.15p per day, I feel like I’ve beaten the system!

Bialetti Moka Express

Yesterday the mood took me and I went hunting for some new coffee making appartatus. I didn’t get a replacement glass for my french press which was my original intention, but I did pick up a stove-top espresso maker and have spotted where to get the necessary component for my fallen Bodum, which shall be acquired at some point in the near future.

It was a bit of a mission tracking this piece of equipment down, but just when I had given up I bumped into a work colleague who pointed me in the direction of Habitat who could thankfully satisfy my needs. I walked home via the supermarket and picked up some fine-ground italian coffee to go with my new toy:

Moka And Espresso Grounds

I eagerly read the included instructions, washed and filled the moka and went ahead with making my first, sacrificial, batch of espresso. The smell of the fresh coffee was fantastic and I was a bit disheartened with having to pour it down the sink, but I wasted no time getting setup for another run and wasn’t disappointed with the results.

The process gave me a mug(!) of rich, black, steaming espresso which I drank as fast as I could. I could feel the muscles in my jaws tighten, my stomach got a bit queasy and all I could think was “this is great, I need more!” I resisted the desire for another spin on the roundabout and needless to say, I didn’t feel entirely sleepy when it was time for me to get into bed.

Today I have went through the ritual no less than 4 times and counting my saturday afternoon routine of a quadruple shot americano at Starbucks with the troops, my espresso shot count is easily in the high twenties. And all I can think of is having more.

Beware the “little man with a mustache.”

Bye Bye Bodum

I was doing a bit of washing up last night before I went to bed and as Fortuna would it, the glass component of my cafetière fell over in my dish rack and promptly broke. It was made of Pyrex / borosilicate glass and the fall seemed so mild for want of a better term so I felt both shocked and confused that such a thing could happen. Here’s a snap of the fallen soldier:

Bodum Cafetière - Broken

I would have had that particular piece of paraphernalia for 2 years next month, though I haven’t used it much since christmas when my brother and his missus donated a filter coffee maker to the cause, which has seen daily use. I guess it was just it’s Time. Ahh, the fond memories of sitting in front of my monitor at 4 in the morning with a steaming mug of java at hand. It will be missed.

I see that Amazon sell replacement parts so I’ll scope out the prices in town in my lunch break, compare and contrast and decide on my next action.

Less mourning and more coding…

4mm Tunnels

I had been thinking about it for some time and finally decided to just go for it. So, a couple of hours ago I was signing the waiver and getting ready to get my ear lobes stretched for the first time.

I can remember not liking the whole flesh tunnel thing, but over time, what put me off them was what happens when you remove the jewelery: the “cat’s arse” look. Today I just gave in though and here are my ears less then 15 minutes after I left the piercing shop:

Left Ear Right Ear

It wasn’t exactly a pleasant experience, having a taper forced into an existing piercing but I’m told that the first stretch is the worst and that it should be easier as the gauge increases. I can only describe it as a burning, tearing sensation and it has been so long since I was last pierced that I couldn’t say if was any better or worse than my previous experiences.

I was initially unsure about the look of the CBRs sitting behind each tunnel, but after looking at the photos (taken with my now silent camera phone) I don’t think they look too bizarre. Time will tell what I do about them though: when I was younger I thought more was better but I’ve come to believe that quality is better than quantity, so I might take them out or possibly change the jewelry.

Now all I need is another tattoo and my life will be complete (well, for half an hour anyway!)

Barely Legal

Richard just drew my attention to this news item describing Banksy’s latest escapade, an exhibition which includes a “37-year old Indian elephant [...] painted, from head to tail, in a floral pattern reminiscent of an old fashioned living room or a British pub,” genius!

Banksy - Pink Elephant

I hadn’t heard of Banksy before until I read about him replacing 500 copies of Paris Hilton’s album in record shops with CDs containing music by Danger Mouse and featuring doctored artwork. I immediately thought “I like the way this guy thinks!”

Looks like I’ve just got myself a new IM avatar!

Clerks II

Clerks II - Movie PosterI had been looking forward to seeing Clerks II and was planning to go to the cinema to see it, but I gave in and downloaded a copy.

I had a choice between 2 TeleSyncs: a 1-disc Xvid and a 2-disc SVCD. It was a close-run thing but I thought that the SVCD copy was (maybe) slightly better in quality and anyways, it would give me an opportunity to play about with DVD-lab.

Firstly, I fired-up VCDGear and extracted the MPEG-1 goodness. I found an easy to follow tutorial and proceeded to add the .mpg files to my project, DVD-lab demuxed the audio and video successfully, but choked when it came to transcoding and resampling the audio for the first disc, so I had to play around with BeSweet and managed to create a pair of 48KHz .wav files without too much hassle.

I hadn’t used DVD-lab before, but it was easy to add chapters and compile a “no-frills” DVD. I didn’t reencode the video and the resultant DVD actually comprised 2 titles (1 for each SVCD), but after creating an image and burning it, my DVD player never knew the difference. My only complaint was a slight click in the audio, but I was happy with the fruits of my labour.

Clerks II - Screen Shot

The movie itself was excellent and as far as sequels go, I’ve see a lot worse. Nothing could have been better than the original Clerks, but Kevin Smith definitely gets my seal of approval for this one.

One of my favourite scenes was Jay parodying Buffalo Bill dancing to Q Lazzarus’ Goodbye Horses in Silence of the lambs. And there was even some Inter-species erotica near the end, what more could a deviant ask for? If I could get that song out of my head and off my hard-drive…

Jason Mewes’ character, Jay, wasn’t the same this time around though. But what do you expect, the lad is now in recovery (Bill W, hell yeah!) and looking good for it.

Sell a kidney if you have to and go see this movie and if you have any money why not buy Silent Bob’s coat?


And There Are No Diamonds In The Mine

Coffee!!1Oh the joy! The office has gotten in the coffee supplies again. Imagine my surprise when I opened the cupboard to discover row upon row of bags of the stuff.

I’ve been reading through the archives of a blog I stumbled upon a while back and came across an entry about coffee which mentioned it’s procurement via the internet. I love my coffee and have been a heavy consumer of it for many years (especially since I got into recovery) and when choosing a bean I always go for the strongest available, avoiding the different “blends” or “styles” that most supermarkets offer.

I love that different coffees come from different parts of the world and have sampled the produce of a great many countries, but I’ve never gotten into the wide range of specialist beans available as most supermarkets just don’t stock them. A bit of searching returned a few sites that look promising. Old Brown Java, Hawaii Kona, Jamaican Blue Mountain (£35.99 per 500g!) the names alone make my mouth water (but the prices make my wallet tremble.)

Maybe someday when I’m feeling rich, with a debit card in my hand and the need for more I’ll put an order in.

I think I’m due another mug of joe…

Let Them Eat Cake

I was chatting to Phil yesterday and we got to talking about the antics in the staff room at break time:

2:52 PM Philip: what you up to atm then?
me: trying to transfer a site over from one hosting account to another…
2:53 PM pain in the ass
Philip: i imagine so
any more biscuit site updates?
me: not yet…
I was thinking of maybe a blog entry concerning middle-aged women and cake…
Philip: haha
2:54 PM i didn’t think it was possible to talk about cake for 20 minutes
Guess I was wrong!
me: it was unreal
the hype and excitement on their little faces
2:55 PM Philip: i’m gonna bring in a tape recorder – you could put an RSS feed on your site!
2:56 PM me: get with the lingo haha
Philip: d’oh!
I put off posting about it but the Imp of the Perverse was busy whispering into my ear and I finally gave in. What is it with middle-aged women and confectionary?