Monday, October 13, 2008

What Is Past Is Prologue...

"Whereof what is past is prologue, what’s to come is at your and my discharge."
This is a quote from William Shakespeare's "The Tempest". From my understanding, it means that whatever's happened up to now only sets the stage for where we are - the main story starts now and it's up to us what happens in the future. It can apply to any time, but I feel it is especially appropriate to me at the moment. We (Dee and I!) are finally getting married on Saturday. This is obviously a major event in life and will considerably effects.

I have had a very fortunate life and been very well looked after by fantastic parents. They have been, and done, more than I could have asked for. I haven't always agreed with them, but they have been a great source of inspiration, comfort and guidance. I don't want to play down events that have happened so far and the influences that people have had on me. However, there is a part of me that can't help but feel as though the past has all been preparation for what's to come - the rest of my life lies ahead of me. Shakepseare was right:
"Whereof what is past is prologue, what’s to come is at your and my discharge."

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

House Hunting Frustrations

We're looking for a first house to buy and have a rather limited budget. Everything we've seen is either too small or in a "dodgy" part of town. Except two. They are close enough to ideal in almost all respects - just one snag: I might not be able to get a signal on my work mobile (kinda important). Need to go back again to check...

So frustrating!

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Britney's Family Fighting Back?

I'm not normally too interested in the lives of celebrities, and the up's and (more significantly) down's of Britney Spears' life has quite happily passed me by. Recently however, it has started to catch my eye. Over the last couple of years, she has gone from one minor disaster to the next, with the media/paparazzi lapping it up - always there with cameras followed by the inevitable negative press reports. I have always felt little bit sorry for Britney. The life of a celebrity can't be an easy one - especially for people like Britney who get thrust to fame so rapidly at such a young age. How can these people be expected to know how to deal with it all - the sudden press attention, following and scrutinizing their every move; not to mention the vast sums of money (and all the temptations that go with it)?

In my mind, the responsibility is with the managers of these celebrities. It is up to them to manage the media and help the person live a sustainable life. In the case of Britney, it seems that her manger, Sam Lutfi, has not been doing this. The BBC quotes her mother as saying "He yells at her. He claims to control everything - Britney's business manager, her attorneys and the security guards at the gate". From the rest of this report, and others, it sounds very much like this man in particular is ruining her life. But her parents are trying to take action - they have succeeded in getting a restraining order against Mr Lutfi, and now her "father has been given the power to fire her business manager [Howard Grossman]" (BBC). We can only hope that her parents, over time, are able to remove the people from Britney's life that are causing harm, separate her from the negative publicity and media scrums that surround her, and get her the treatment she needs.

Good luck to the Spears' family!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Google Goes Mobile

It's official - after months of speculation about a possible "Google Phone" (gPhone?), it has been announced that they are launching an Operating System for mobile phones. This will be in direct competition with the already established names like "Microsoft, Research in Motion, Palm and Symbian". However, one major factor that will affect phone manufacturers choice will be cost. In the best traditions of Google, they are providing their software "to handset makers free of charge". I don't know how much manufacturers pay for the likes of Windows Mobile, but you can bet the cost gets passed on (one way or another) to the end user - you and me. Will the free OS reduce costs for end-users, thus sparking a price war? Or will someone (or everyone) in the chain just increase their profit margins?

I wonder how well it will work with Windows. I have been using a Windows Mobile device for little over 6 months (and for a year about 3 years ago). I love the way you can synchronise it with Microsoft Outlook. However, I am also a fan of Google products. I have been using Gmail for a few years and have used Google Calendar, though since I've been unable to find a truly successful way of synchronising that with my Windows Mobile phone, I've abandoned it in favour of just using Outlook (I haven't had much success with RemoteCalendars, OggSync, gSyncIt or ScheduleWorld - but that story's for another day!). Perhaps this explains why Google haven't rushed to get their calendar to synchronise with Outlook? I would be very surprised if Google's new OS couldn't synchronise Google Calendar to an off-line version on the phone!

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Sunday, August 12, 2007

Be Grateful For What You Have

Yesterday, I watched an episode of Frasier. In it, somebody else's mail got delivered to Frasier by mistake and one of the items was an invitation to some kind of new exclusive place in town that he hadn't heard of. He couldn't bear the thought that there was something too exclusive for him, so he found out what it was - a health spa. Next, of course, he had to go to it.

When he got there, he handed over the invitation, but they wouldn't let him in because his name wasn't on the list. After Frasier had been arguing with the receptionist for a few minutes, Niles walked in, pretending to be someone else. This was obviously a pre-arranged plan between them, and they were allowed in.

They thought it was wonderful and thoroughly enjoyed themselves - they thought it was perfect (if a little pricey!). Anyway, just as they were leaving, they saw a gold door. When they tried to go through it, they were told that they weren't allowed - it was for Gold Members only.

Now they knew that there was something better than what they had, they were unhappy. What they had now wasn't good enough, despite the fact they had thought it was wonderful before they knew about this higher level. They wanted more.

They managed to get into the gold level (by utilizing a friend's contact). They thought this was idyllic - much better than the Silver Level they'd had before, much more befitting to people of their social standing. But then, while they were in a relaxation room, they saw a platinum door.

Of course, they weren't satisfied with the Gold Level now they knew there was something better still - they had to see what was in the Platinum Level. On their first attempt to get through the platinum door, they were told they weren't allowed. Not to be put off, they tried again, this time getting through. As soon as they were through, they thought they were in paradise. There was a lovely warm bright light surrounding them - much better (they thought) than what they had just been experiencing in the Gold Level. Only, as one of them realised they could smell rubbish, it dawned on them it wasn't paradise - they were actually stood outside next to the bins, and the door couldn't be opened from the outside.

Moral of the story - it's OK to want to better yourself, but don't be ungrateful with what you've got.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Falcon 4: Mission Report 5

Takeoff: Day 1, 09:48

This mission is an escort. A flight of F-15E's are attacking an airfield just behind the front-line. Again, same as the last mission, I don't expect too much opposition, so I sacrifice 2 AMRAAM's for the sake of 2 AGM-88 HARM missiles (I leave the rest of my flight with 4 AMRAAM's and 2 Sidewinders).

The flight is very straight forward. After making the turn at waypoint 2, the closest enemy aircraft is 50 miles away to the North-East, and AWAC's can't see any threats. As we approach waypoint 3, I call up my HARM's, hoping to see a radar belonging to a missile system, but there is nothing apart from search radars. I send one missile at the radar on the airfield the F-15E's will be attacking, and another at a search radar nearby. No sooner have I done this than AWAC's declares a pair of SU-17's 30 miles away. I send the second element after them. We get a bit of AAA over the target airfield, so I turn on my jammer, jink and turn away South, towards the next waypoint.

After landing, I see that I killed 1 radar and a runway (my missile to the airfield's radar must have missed the radar but hit the runway instead - oh well, it still counts as a kill!). One of the SU-17's must have either got away, or killed by someone else, as our flight just gets credited with 1 air-to-air kill.

I suppose the most important thing about the mission was that the F-15E's survived and hit the airfield - hard. The results from the debrief say "East Incheon has been completely shut down and will be unable to launch any sorties in the near future."

Falcon 4: Mission Report 4

Takeoff: Day 1, 09:48

We have been assigned yet another sweep mission, but this time further North. There are again 4 of us and we have 4 AMRAAMS and 2 Sidewinders each. Bearing in mind the last couple of missions - how we seem to have achieved air superiority round the front-line, I decide to leave my 2 Sidewinders behind and take along 4 cluster bombs. There are some T-62 tanks between waypoints 3 and 4, so I'll see if I can take a few of them out.

After take-off, AWAC's declares all clear. By the time we get to waypoint 3, there are some enemy aircraft, but nothing that AWAC's thinks is a threat. I call up my air-to-ground radar and find some targets. AWAC's confirms they are enemy. I line up on them and drop all 4 CBU's. Meanwhile, we are closing in on some enemy aircraft (I think they are transport-types). We all pick and engage targets. We have already over-shot waypoint 4 and are supposed to be starting to head back South. The closest enemy aircraft are about 40 miles away now, so we head back.

At the debriefing, I am credited with1 air-to-air kill, as are numbers two and three. Number four gets 2 air to air-to-air kills, so that's 5 between us. The big news is, is that I got 19 air-to-ground kills! For that, I was awarded the Air Force Cross!

Friday, June 29, 2007

Rain and Responsibility

I think this must be about the wettest June on record for the UK. Two weeks ago, the building I work in got flooded, so we all got to go home at lunchtime. There has been a lot more rain at the start of this week (sounds like Sheffield and Doncaster got it worst). Now they're forecasting even more rain for the weekend!

Lots of people are complaining that the Environment Agency aren't doing enough to protect people's homes from flooding. People are blaming the government/councils for letting developers build on flood-plains. What are the home owners themselves doing though? Are they taking responsibility and action for looking after their own property? Or are they just waiting for and expecting someone else to do it?

There are companies that provide flood defences for properties. I accept it's not cheap, but what does it cost if you get flooded? From what they were saying on the radio the other day, there are a variety of options depending on the exact circumstances, such as water-proof air-bricks, water-tight door seals, perimeter skirts etc.

Don't get me wrong, I have complete sympathy with anyone who has suffered as a result of the floods, but I am very much of the opinion that we have to take action to look after ourselves, not just expect someone else (i.e. the government) to look after us all the time. To borrow a famous quote:
"You think safety is expensive, try having an accident!"

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Champions League: AC Milan 2 - 1 Liverpool

Alas, it was not be. Liverpool dominated the first half, and although they didn't have all that many chances, certainly looked the more likely team to score. Then, right on the stroke of half-time, Alonso conceded a free-kick on the edge of the area. Pirlo takes it, Reina diving to his left would have saved it, but it got deflected off the head of Inzaghi (entirely by chance) who was running in. This sent it to the other side of Reina and into the goal. It was one of those "flukey" goals that no-one could have done anything about. So, entirely against the run of play, AC Milan are 1-0 up at half-time.

The second half was generally more balanced. Liverpool weren't playing just as well and AC Milan were playing better. There were a couple of chances at either end, and short spell where Liverpool were really on the back-foot, but they survived. That is, until Kaka threads a pass through Liverpool's defence to guess who? Inzaghi. He is one-on-one with Reina, who comes out to him, but Inzaghi goes round him and scores to make it 2-0. Surely it's all over now, or is there still time for a come-back?

Liverpool are getting desperate now, throwing everything into the attack as the last few minutes count down. Liverpool win a corner. It is taken by Pennant, flicked on by Agger and headed in by Kuyt at the back post. Just one more needed to force extra-time!

It is announced that there are to be a minimum of 3 minutes added on. To be fair to AC Milan, they don't look to be particularly trying to waste time. They do make a substitution which does take a little while, but surely the ref will allow for it and add on another few seconds? There may still be a chance.

But no. The referee decides he's had enough and blows for full-time after allowing only 2 minutes 40 seconds for added time instead of the minimum 3 minutes! Liverpool manager, Benitez, is complaining to the referee, pointing vigorously to his watch, but of course its to no avail.

On the whole, Liverpool dominated the first half, and perhaps should have made more of that. They were unlucky with the first goal, but all credit to AC Milan - they took their chances when they had them. Never mind - there's always next year (and Benitez should have lots of money to spend over the summer, let's see if he can put it to good use!)

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Falcon 4: Mission Report 3

Takeoff: Day 1, 09:06

This was another CAP in exactly the same area as Mission 2. It was a flight of 4 and we had 6 AMRAAM's each, so we were looking to do some serious damage to the enemies strike capability.

We took off and checked with AWACS - no bad guys anywhere near. We followed our planned route, but the whole way round, AWACS was reporting clear. After we finished our patrol, I wondered about just going North towards the border looking for a fight and did indeed go a few miles. However, it quickly became apparent that all the aircraft near the border were friendly and there were no obvious enemies nearby.

We went back to base feeling slightly disappointed that we didn't get any action, but at least we seem to have achieved air superiority around the front line. Lets just hope for some more action on the next mission - might have to adjust the mission priority sliders to generate more air-to-ground missions.