Weight and Stuff Report – 30 March 2015

Weight: 212.9 pounds (15 stone 2.9 pounds, 96.6 kg)
Steps taken: 2,805

Now there’s a major improvement in my weight. Shame it’s a temporary wossname caused by my weekend of the lurgy, really. Normal bloatage will no doubt resume as the week goes on.

I survived a day back at work, had some nice lunch from the lovely people at Good Times on Grey Street, and got some horrible technical things done.

Here’s a view of the Black Gate, showing the new external lift shaft. I don’t think it’s a bad addition at all, especially if you take into account that the structure has been extensively changed many times over the centuries – you don’t think that roof’s original, do you? Sometimes it’s better to draw a balance between preservation and practicality…

The Black Gate

The Black Gate

Camera: X-T1
Aperture: ƒ/11
Shutter speed: 1/200s
Focal length: 50mm
ISO: 500
Taken: 22 March, 2015

Weight and Stuff Report – 29 March 2015

Weight: 213.5 pounds (15 stone 3.5 pounds, 96.8 kg)
Steps taken: Very few

Hah! Look at that amazing weight figure! Lowest of the year so far! Shame it took nearly three days of not really eating to do it, so it’s definitely a temporary wossname.

I had another early night, and was asleep not long after 10pm. Slept, woke up once or twice and read for a bit before getting up and having a slow start to the day. Had some breakfast quite late (but then, clocks going forward, etc), watched some more stuff, bullied myself into doing the ironing (since it seems I’m going back to work tomorrow, this was necessary), felt a bit tired, then realised that even though I didn’t actually feel particularly hungry, having something to eat seemed like a sensible idea, so I did. A Tesco’s spicy meatballs in tomato sauce with pasta did quite nicely.

Today’s photo is a close view of the royal arms on the Theatre Royal:

Theatre Royal

Theatre Royal

Camera: X-T1
Aperture: ƒ/5
Shutter speed: 1/250s
Focal length: 74.4mm
ISO: 200
Taken: 22 March, 2015

Weight and Stuff Report – 28 March 2015

Weight: 215.2 pounds (15 stone 5.2 pounds, 97.6 kg)
Steps taken: 1,470

That’s quite a big drop, possibly due to not eating very much and some other reasons which I’ll spare you. Quite temporary, I’m sure.

As predicted, I went to bed early – 7pm, read for about an hour, then slept till the early hours and dozed for a while longer. Definitely not a Frankie & Benny’s breakfast day  :wah: – but I did have some toast.

I was feeling a bit more lively later on, and did my usual shopping then put the washing on, and settled down to watch some of the pile of DVDs and Blu-rays that I haven’t got round to. Another early night seems likely.

Here’s a wider view form New(Castle)2:

Worth the climb

Worth the climb

Camera: X-T1
Aperture: ƒ/13
Shutter speed: 1/200s
Focal length: 14mm
ISO: 250
Taken: 22 March, 2015

Weight and Stuff Report – 27 March 2015

Weight: 221 pounds (15 stone 11 pounds, 100.2 kg)
Steps taken: 1,076

Up again, on a not at all good day.

Despite not feeling at my best, i went into work early for a meeting that didn’t actually happen. Realising that I was actually feeling worse as the morning went on, I took myself home and went back to bed for a few hours, then reseted in front of the TV for a few more hours. It’s one of those odd thingies I get now and again, where I get very tired and develop odd aches and pains and have a total lack of appetite (which is quite unusual for me, as the weight figure might suggest).

An early night seems likely.[1]

Here’s an obligatory Earl Grey photo from last weekend:

Earl Grey and Friend

Earl Grey and Friend

Camera: X-T1
Aperture: ƒ/8
Shutter speed: 1/400s
Focal length: 140mm
ISO: 200
Taken: 22 March, 2015

The Return of Doctor Who: Ten Years On

Though I’ve been aware of it, in a vague sort of way, for a while, the fact that today is the tenth anniversary of the return of Doctor Who as a regularly scheduled TV show still feels a little odd. But yes, it was Easter weekend 2005 that a guy in a leather jacket told Rose Tyler to run, and nothing’s been quite the same since. Without Doctor Who,  I don’t think we’d have seen shows like Primeval, Merlin, the very silly Robin Hood and the even sillier Atlantis.

Here’s what I said about that first episode – for reasons of something or other, I posted this a couple of days after the first showing. Dunno if that was spoiler avoidance (possibly) or tuit issues (more likely):

The Return of Doctor Who

Weight and Stuff Report – 26 March 2015

Weight: 219.4 pounds (15 stone 9.4 pounds, 99.5 kg)
Steps taken: 3,239

No change today, which makes a change, so perhaps that’s what it is. Or something.

This is  a wide view of the Black Gate, now part of New(Castle)2:

The Black Gate

The Black Gate

Camera: X-T1
Aperture: ƒ/7.1
Shutter speed: 1/300s
Focal length: 14mm
ISO: 200
Taken: 22 March, 2015

Weight and Stuff Report – 25 March 2015

Weight: 219.4 pounds (15 stone 9.4 pounds, 99.5 kg)
Steps taken: 3,695

Down a bit today, good stuff.[1] I even managed a bit of a longer escape from the office at lunchtime, leading to a better step count. Woo hoo, or something.

Here’s a view from Newcastle Castle, which I’m afraid I’m just going to have to start calling New(Castle)2. Sorry[2], it’s the sort of thing I do…

The Tyne Bridge

The Tyne Bridge

Camera: X-T1
Aperture: ƒ/11
Shutter speed: 1/200s
Focal length: 50mm
ISO: 250
Taken: 22 March, 2015

[1] Subject to usual comments about random behaviour of scale, etc
[2] Subject to usual comments about not being at all sorry, etc

Weight and Stuff Report – 24 March 2015

Weight: 220.1 pounds (15 stone 10.1 pounds, 99.8 kg)
Steps taken: 1,460

Mutter, up again today. I’m really coming to the conclusion that the scale is indeed having a giraffe.[1]

Here’s a thing I spotted on Sunday. If this was in the Baltic, it would be art, with a pretentious sign explaining how it symbolises the alienation and division of society, and the fundamental thinginess of wossname. Probably.

Ummm, is it art?

Ummm, is it art?

Camera: X-T1
Aperture: ƒ/8
Shutter speed: 1/200s
Focal length: 140mm
ISO: 2000
Taken: 22 March, 2015

On the other hand, it may just be an abandoned shoe.

[1] Rhyming slang. Not an actual giraffe, which would have difficulty getting up the stairs

Space:1999 The Complete First Series Blu-ray

This is not a new release – it came out around five years ago, but as I didn’t have a Blu-ray player at the time, I wasn’t in any rush to buy it. But when I spotted it for the moderately reasonable price of £26.99 earlier in January, I decided the time was right. And what with one thing and another, I’ve just got around to watching the whole thing.

For the benefit of younger readers, or anyone who wasn’t paying attention at the time, I think I’d better explain what we have here.

In the early 1970s, Gerry Anderson (creator of Thunderbirds, Stingray, Captain Scarlet, etc, etc..) had a live-action series called UFO, which involved a base on the Moon, alien invaders, futuristic cars and a title sequence that implied it was set in 1980, though I don’t think this was ever explicitly stated. Anyway, this show was doing quite well, getting good audience figures, especially in the financially significant US market. Doing so well that Gerry was asked to create a second series. This would be a development of the first – set some years later with a new moonbase and other goodies. Well, Gerry and his team set to work, and much money was spent on development, model building and so on. So quite naturally, the US ratings fell, and the new series was cancelled. Not being a man to throw good work away, Gerry suggested that he repurpose the work done so far and develop a new series. This was agreed to, with a condition that no episodes ever at all, not even one, would be set on Earth (apparently a US TV executive was annoyed about an episode of UFO that did that). And so the concept was born: the Moon would be blasted out of Earth’s orbit and sent off into deep space, which would guarantee a lack of Earth-based episodes.

And so it was. To keep the American backers happy, US stars Martin Landau and Barbara Bain were recruited as the leading characters, Commander John Koenig and Doctor Helena Russell. The premise was this:

By 1999, there’s a well-established, permanently occupied base on the Moon. One of the base’s important jobs is running the store of nuclear waste on the far side. Because obviously, a good way to get rid of nuclear waste is to stick it on big explody things and hide it where nobody’s going to look. And in 1974, when the series was being developed, it didn’t seem all that unreasonable to suggest that there would be a permanent base there. The waste storage thing, maybe not…

But the most believable thing was the standard spacecraft at Moonbase Alpha: the Eagle Transporter. It looked like a practical working vehicle, with its interchangeable modules (like Thunderbird 2, kind of, sort of) and tubular framework. I like it so much that some years ago, I paid a moderate sum for a quite nice model:

Eagle

Eagle

Camera: X-T1
Aperture: ƒ/8
Shutter speed: 1/45s
Focal length: 50mm
ISO: 6400
Taken: 3 March, 2015

Anyway, disaster strikes and the Moon is blasted out of orbit and into deep space, which is more or less the point at which disbelief has to be not so much suspended as hung, drawn, quartered and jumped on with big boots. Not only does Moonbase Alpha survive the massive acceleration mostly intact, but so do the soft and squishy inhabitants. OK, we’ll swallow that. But then the Moon keeps arriving in other solar systems, implying a very high velocity indeed. But as it approaches the planet of the week, it seems to be going slowly enough for the Alphans (as they’re often called) to pop over, have a look, meet some aliens who are generally not at all pleased to see them, face Terrible Peril (with explosions, generally – this is a Gerry Anderson show, you know) and then somehow make it back to the Moon in time for it to drift slowly away and on to the next star system, which quite remarkably is reached before everyone dies of old age.  Now there is an early episode[1] in which the Moon passes through a black hole to another part of the universe, where maybe star systems are much closer together, though this is never made quite clear.

But, and it’s a big huge but, if you can ignore the basic silliness of the premise (which isn’t significantly harder than letting warp drives and TARDISes act as plot drivers), under it all there’s actually a decent bit of television science fiction. Lots of good stories which go well beyond the “monster/alien of the week” format you might expect.

There are timewarps leading to people meeting themselves (not recommended), devious aliens who challenge the humans’ morality and turn earth’s own weapons against the moonbase. Or perhaps they don’t. Years before Star Trek: The Motion Picture, the people of Moonbase Alpha have to deal with the unplanned consequences of the return of a Voyager probe. And there’s one seriously good monster story with a nicely traditional spaceship graveyard. And much more.

There’s a suitably impressive array of guest stars, including the ubiquitous Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, not to mention Leo McKern with far more hair than Rumpole ever had.

There are some things which from this point in the twenty-first century are moderately amusing. Actually, they’d have been a bit funny in the actual 1999. The show is, of course, run by a computer known only as Computer. But for most of the time, Computer’s sole form out output (despite the place being covered in video screens[2]) is little printed slips. And then there’s the one where Doctor Russell, in a framing device for the story, is seen to be writing her report on the matter in hand. On a typewriter. Not even a fancy digital one – a thing with an actual moving carriage….

This set contains all of the first season, plus a pile of extras – some contemporary material, some made for the DVD release, and a few newer bits for this version. While the extras aren’t essential, the articles in the booklet are well worth reading (and cover much of the same ground as the extras). Though the Gerry Anderson interview bits (old and not so old) are worth a look.

There’s also one episode of the very different second (and final) season. There were numerous changes, and many unexplained changes of personnel, new uniforms, the central Main Mission changed to a quite different Command Center, and a new theme (inferior to the original in my opinion) and title sequence (quite crap compared to the original in my opinion). On the other hand, the included episode does have Brian Blessed, sorry BRIAN BLESSED in it, so it’s not all bad.

If you’ve never seen Space:1999, it’s worth a look. If you’re not inclined to buy or rent the shiny discs, it’s probably on some channel somewhere at some time. Or on the internet. I hear a lot of things can be found there.

And that seems to be the longest post I’ve done in ages. Make the most of it, it doesn’t happen often…

[1] Though in the odd way of ITV at the time, it wasn’t necessarily shown early in the original run
[2] Interesting point: before Space:1999, filming video screens tended to lead to rolling bars on the screen due to the camera shutter being out of phase with the video. Gerry Anderson’s technical people worked out how to make the camera provide a sync signal, so all those video screens could be filmed without rolling black bars