Monthly Archives: December 2017

2017 Round-up

Well, 2017 has less than twelve hours to go in this time zone, so I might as well get on with the eagerly anticipated annual review, which saves you from reading the rest of my nonsense.

Weight

Let’s look at the numbers first, shall we:

January 1: 237 pounds (16 stone 13 pounds, 107.5 kg)
December 31: 226 pounds (16 stone 2 pounds, 102.5 kg)

That’s an actual drop of 11 pounds (5kg), which is the best for a few years. It’s an even bigger drop if you take into account that my peak weight this year was 243.9 pounds (17 stone 5.9 pounds, 110.6 kg) in early February.

Comparisons with previous years are, to say the least, tricky, as I started using a new, and apparently more truthful scale. The previous one, apart from being a bit flaky, seems to have been underestimating by a significant amount. For the purposes of my magic spreadsheet, I’ve guesstimated this at 17 pounds (7.7kg), but it’s probably a non-linear variation, so this is more than likely wildly inaccurate.

Posting

Down on last year, and the lowest post count ever for a full year. Must do better, or something.

2003: 2 posts
2004: 515 posts
2005: 576 posts
2006: 620 posts
2007: 747 posts
2008: 833 posts
2009: 718 posts
2010: 717 posts
2011: 770 posts
2012: 665 posts
2013: 607 posts
2014: 484 posts
2015: 469 posts
2016: 474 posts
2017: 461 posts

Stuff

In an almost unprecedented development, I didn’t change any cameras this year, and I’m still happily using the X-T2 and X70. Oddly, I’ve found the X70 to be more fun recently..

The guitar thing is now on hold, in case you’re wondering. I may get back to it at some point.

I’ve made a start on a creative writing course, the idea being to maybe get some things published somewhere…

There will be some changes for me in 2018 – more on that when the time is right.

And finally…

Happy New Year to anyone and everyone who reads this stuff.

December 2017 Round-up

December has just about given up and is making a quiet exit, so it has to be time for the ever-popular monthly summary.

Weight

More of those random wossnames:

December 1: 231.6 pounds (16 stone 7.6 pounds, 105.1 kg)
December 31: 226 pounds (16 stone 2 pounds, 102.5 kg)

That’s an actually quite noticeable drop of 5.6 pounds (2.5kg), and if the month had had the decency to end a couple of days early, it would have been an even more noticeable drop of 7 pounds (3.2kg).

Eating

There has been a bit of that, it’s quite common at this time of year, you know

Exercise

A few more moderate walks. More needed!

Posting

It looks like the monthly total will be a quite large for these days 43

Stuff

Not a lot of stuff right now. Maybe later.

Weight and Stuff Report – 31 December 2017

Weight: 226 pounds (16 stone 2 pounds, 102.5 kg)
Steps: Very few

Up again today…

I’m having a quiet day in today, getting the washing done, catching up on more TV and generally relaxing.

The final photo of the year is this one Tigger insisted on

Tigger and some other guy

Tigger and some other guy

In case of doubt, Tigger is the one on the right.

DeLonghi Autentica Plus Coffee Machine

It’s a whole five years since I last mentioned the espresso-creating kit installed at Losing it HQ. That was a bargain-priced Saeco machine, which did its job for a few years before developing an annoying problem. While continuing to produce perfectly acceptable coffee, it became a bit awkward to use, as one of the coloured light elements that made its informative display work totally failed, giving the impression it was off when it was actually on. So, it was replaced by the then current equivalent model (at a similarly discounted price from John Lewis). That one avoided having a fancy display, and just had illuminated buttons, which seemed like a more resilient option. That one worked nicely for about two and a half years before developing an occasional reluctance to build up pressure and deliver coffee, not to mention a slight dribbling from its bottom. As it was a low-cost (as these things go) device, it didn’t seem sensible to spend money on having it service, repaired, or whatever, so the hunt was on for a replacement.

I always like to see these things for real rather than relying solely on online images, so I had the usual wander around the department stores. The first thing I noticed was a distinct lack of Gaggia or Saeco on sale. Presumably after swallowing the brand, Philips lost interest in marketing to consumers – the big kit for cafés is still around.

The next thing I noticed was a lot of DeLonghi machines – they used to have more basic ones, but while I hadn’t been paying attention, they’d clearly been doing some serious development. I spotted a few possibles, and went away to do the research. I eliminated the more fancy ones with built in milk tanks that can (depending on model) do anything from making it easier to froth milk up to creating a milk shake for people who don’t really like coffee (or “latte”, as some call it), on the grounds that I’m not the kind of person who thinks milk belongs in coffee. This still left a larger number of machines than seemed necessary, but hey ho and all that.

More digging led me to this model – nice features, useful display and (most important) reviews suggesting it would indeed do the job required. The only problem was the price – at around £450, it was a fair bit more than I was comfortable with paying. Experience suggests that about three years is the lifetime of a coffee machine in my kitchen, so I feel moderately happy spending around £300 (give or take, more or less). Mind you, that price was a lot better than in one shop that had it at its earlier price of £650, which is a lot more than I’d have even thought about.

So, more research. And I’d almost decided to leave it for a bit, when I had another look on the manufacturer’s site (yes, I’d had a look at all instruction videos and the PDF of the manual, it’s what I do) and found that they’d reduced the price to £319 with free delivery. Well, that turned it from a “maybe later” into a “take my money now” kind of thing, and I ordered it.

It looks like the Autentica range of machines have been superseded by some functionally identical, but cosmetically different ones, so they might well have been looking to clear stock, which suited me fine – especially when I noticed that the original price was apparently over £700. I have seen it on sale more recently at £399, so it may be a general “end of line” thing, but I still got the best deal, so there.

A few days later, it arrived and I wasted no time in setting it up. As always with a new bean to cup machine, you have to make a few coffees before it comes through in full strength. It’s important to remember that, as otherwise you might get the idea that your new machine doesn’t make proper bloody espresso, which would be Very Bad.

After a bit if a tweak of the grind size control and setting it to “extra strong”, it started to deliver as good an espresso as I’ve had anywhere. I use the Espresso Crema blend from Pumphrey’s in the Grainger Market, which is a dark, strong roast that is the best for my taste, and it works as well with the DeLonghi as it did with the Saeco.

Maintenance is a bit different – the grounds box and drip tray are combined, so it’s a simple matter to remove and empty both daily. The water tank is at the rear of the machine, so you may need to think about where you place it for easy access without having to move the whole thing. A water filter is included, and unlike the one that came with the Saeco, is the right size, so I’m using it.

When I bought it, DeLonghi had an offer on – register your machine and get some free stuff (the more expensive the machine, the more free stuff you get). I got two packs of descaler (this will be needed every few months, useful), a water filter (recommendation is replace every two months, so useful again), some stuff for cleaning the outside (nice), a cloth, a spare cleaning brush and three 200g packs of coffee beans. Nice.

One useful feature I should mention is the automatic start setting. So long as you set the clock on the machine, you can set it to start up at a particular time of day. It will wake up, warm up, do its rinsing thing and be ready to deliver coffee when you get up. I like that – it means I’ve had to change my routine, so that I fill the water tank in the evening rather than the morning, but that’s fine.

So, nice kit, bargain price. The equivalent model in the newer “Eletta” range is over £700 (and I see mine is now out of stock at DeLonghi, and listed at a similarly painful price), so it looks like I got my timing just right. I love it when that happens.  :tigger:

Weight and Stuff Report – 30 December 2017

Weight: 224.7 pounds (16 stone 0.7 pounds, 101.9 kg)
Steps: 8,178

Up just a teeny bit today.

It was back to the usual routine today – shopping in Tesco’s, then off to the Metrocentre for a wander around (successfully bought one frying pan and one sweater), then back to Newcastle for a visit to the Laing Art Gallery, then home, which is where I am.

Here’s another beach scene for you:

Nice day at the beach

Nice day at the beach

Camera: X70
Aperture: ƒ/8
Shutter speed: 1/210s
Focal length: 18.5mm
ISO: 200
Taken: 2 December, 2017

Weight and Stuff Report – 29 December 2017

Weight: 224.5 pounds (16 stone 0.5 pounds, 101.8 kg)
Steps: 6,202

What? Down again? Yes, that’s another new low for the year.

It’s been snowing here, which meant I had a nice trudge to collect a parcel and buy breakfast this morning. The trudge was such fun that I declined to trudge back and got the bus instead.

I then had a wander around Newcastle (mostly sticking inside Eldon Square, and avoiding the slush).

Today’s picture is a special guest appearance from Tiggercam, showing the brains behind this operation. Well, he’s sitting in the chair, so I presume he’s in charge…

The boss

The boss

Weight and Stuff Report – 28 December 2017

Weight: 225.8 pounds (16 stone 1.8 pounds, 102.4 kg)
Steps: 2,698

I’m back home now, so it’s back to the exciting daily weight reports. Now this is a “just got off the train” weight, but I did have a sarnie, crisps, chocolate and something to drink on the journey, so it shouldn’t be too distorted, and what I’m getting round is that my weight is down again to a new low for the year.

Getting home was mildly entertaining, as the second train (the one from Cheltenham to Newcastle) was about 40 minutes late arriving at Cheltenham, was packed, the displays over the seats (that indicate seat reservations) and indeed the displays showing the coach letters, weren’t working at that point. So, I ended up standing as far as Birmingham, but then I found a seat. To make up time, someone decided that it would be a good idea for the train to not bother with going to Wakefield and Leeds, and instead go straight to York via a different line. While they did announce this, there was a lack of actual train crew walking through to check everyone was aware of this, and offering assistance, which led to one lady finding out just as we left York. She was then assisted at Darlington, but that will have added at least an hour to her already long journey.

These pigeons denied all knowledge of anything having happened to the missing letters here:

Y? M?

Y? M?

Camera: X70
Aperture: ƒ/6.4
Shutter speed: 1/60s
Focal length: 18.5mm
ISO: 250
Taken: 2 December, 2017

Stuff Report – 27 December 2017

Today’s entertainment was a visit from our[1] brother Steve and his daughter Hannah, which involved the usual silliness that happens when you get the three of us in one place.

This is a totally unrelated photo of a bit of seaside art from Redcar

Seaside

Seaside

Camera: X70
Aperture: ƒ/4.5
Shutter speed: 1/800s
Focal length: 18.5mm
ISO: 200
Taken: 25 November, 2017
Location: 54° 37.2438′ 0″ N 1° 4.3168′ 0″ W

 

Oddjobs – Heide Goody & Iain Grant

Here’s another one that Amazon told me I might enjoy. I wasn’t entirely sure, so I took the option of using the free “borrow” feature that comes with my Prime subscription. It’s more fun and games with extra-dimensional entities sufficiently powerful that calling them “gods” is close enough.

The entities in question are known as the Venislarn, and it’s clear that at some undefined point in the near future, they’re going to consume the Earth and all human life will be absorbed in a particularly unpleasant manner involving eternal torment, and all that kind of thing.

Governments, being well aware of What’s Really Going On, have departments set up to deal with all this kind of thing. Not to combat it, because that’s impossible, but to, well, manage it. With more bureaucracy than Charlie Stross’s Bob Howard would care to deal with. At least Bob just had to deal with HR, and was never subjected to to the horrors of brainstorming. On the other hand, he didn’t get to play Buzzword Bingo in meetings, so it all works out. Sort of.

Anyway, that’s enough digression, and on with the story. The action takes place in Birmingham, something of an Eldritch Horror in itself, and features some very silly fishy people, giant starfish from space, strange neighbours and enough geeky gags to put off less geeky readers, such as this topical bit:

CCTV footage of a section of corridor, a slight figure in trailing clothes running away and off screen. Rod dialled it back. “Is that a knitted scarf?” “And a big flappy coat.” “We’ve had a break-in by Doctor Who.” “Looks like a woman.” “They were going to get around to gender-free casting eventually.”

and someone with their priorities right

“What? They cordon off and evacuate the bloody Sea Life Centre but not the Children’s Hospital. I mean, I like penguins but I wouldn’t have said they’re more important than kids… Well, I would, but that’s a personal thing.”

…and a nod to David Langford’s basilisks[1], which is always a Good Thing.

Loads of fun, well worth a read, and I’ll be checking out the sequel once I’ve caught up with some other books that are currently filling my Kindle.

[1] Google it ?