Saturday, 12 April 2014

Just like Gibbs...

On Friday I stopped at the coffee shop (I don't know why I'm being unspecific, I went to Costa, other coffee providers are available but Costa is the closest one to work, and they're open when I go to work, so I went there) and got a drink.  Mainly because I fancied one, but also being it meant that I felt a little bit like Gibbs of NCIS, being able to march into working, clutching a hot drink, ready to do business.

Although the look was probably thrown off a little bit by the drink being a hot chocolate, and by me also clutching a bag with a piece of Tiffin in.

While I'm talking about Gibbs, what's the deal with Norfolk?  You know how an episode of NCIS starts (well if you're addicted to the show like I am you will), basically Tony looks all smug and makes some kind of wisecrack about McGee being a geek, Ziva/Kate shoots Tony being with an epic remark, then Gibbs marches in, and says "Grab your gear - dead marine in Norfolk"

Why Norfolk?  Why is Norfolk, the fairly quiet rural county to the east of England, so popular for marines getting murdered?  Are they choking on insufficiently cooked asparagus?

(Note for American readers - I know Norfolk in the USA is home to the world's largest Naval Base, but in the UK it's a rural county with a penchant for growing asparagus)

Finally, many thanks to all that have watched my World of Warcraft video.  It's become one of my most viewed videos which makes the effort worthwhile.  And thanks again to Andy for helping make it.



Tuesday, 8 April 2014

World of Warcraft Sketches Ahoy!

Not really sure why I put "ahoy" in the title of this post, but there it is.  Live with it.

Just a quick post really to say that I, with the aid of the excellent, funny, and very patient Andy of Bad Dog Gaming, have produced "WoW Life" - a series of World of Warcraft sketches!  The sketches are now live and viewable on my YouTube channel, or follow this link to go direct to the video.

Andy eating a cookie after turning me into a vibrating pig through the use of a polymorph spell.

Unfortunately the sound isn't quite 100%, I have spent a huge amount of time working on the spell and it is massively better than when I started, but there's still some bits where the wind does disrupt things a little. Nevertheless I am pleased with the final result and I hope you enjoy it too.  Be warned that there is some mild swearing in there - along with some extremely dodgy acting!

Special thanks to my parents who provided a lot of the props for the day (check out their weird and wonderful magical mail order goods at https://www.facebook.com/RavenMagical) and obviously thanks to Andy for indulging me.  My other half particularly recommends Andy's sign off at the end of the video.

As an aside, it took the bruises from the "auto follow" sketch about a week to clear up!  Hope you enjoy the video, if you do feel free to like / share / comment / subscribe to my channel!






Sunday, 6 April 2014

TableTop Gaming Day 2014 Report

So, yesterday was International TableTop Day, a day to get together with people, and play all kinds of tabletop games, be they card, board, dice, or whatever.  My day kicked off with a few hours manic cleaning to try to get the place up to standard before revelers arrived, as well as doing something that I very rarely do - engage with strangers on Twitter.

Twitter for me is generally about my news feed, and about tweeting.  TableTop Day is one of the rare days that I go on, and actually search for a hashtag, and fire out positive tweets to anyone else I can find that is also taking part, and Twitter is great for this because it really reminds you just how big the world is, and makes you wonder at how you can get a message from you to people on the far side of the planet in an instant, and you find out fascinating things - for example, TableTop Day was particularly good in some parts of Australia, because it was the same day that their daylight savings time ended, and they all got an extra hour to game (or sleep or do whatever) - this is slightly mind-boggling for me as we've just started our daylight savings time!

It's also given me the opportunity to think of the next games I must buy, which are:

  • Pandemic - I saw tons of people planning to play this, and even though it's supposed to be rock hard, it's a great game
  • Pass the Pigs - I had this when I was a kid and lost it!  But it's great fun.
  • Settlers of Catan - again, like Pandemic, a very popular game indeed and one I must sample.

TableTop Day is a great opportunity to connect with other geeks (not that you have to be a geek to play games!) and one that I've endeavoured to take full advantage of.

Looking at my TableTop Day, on the day we played Cluedo, Ivor the Engine, QI, Hare & Tortoise (which I messed up as I did last year!) and Cards Against Humanity (which was by far the most popular as always!)

Here's a very brief photo timeline - very brief due to the fact that I only took four photos during the whole day!

8am - got all my games out.  Slightly embarrassed at the amount of dust on some of them.

1.30pm - about two hours in, and after a visit to the chippy for lunch, we got into some good old dice rolling "Snakes & Ladders" style gaming - Ivor The Engine is a game for 4 to 7 year olds, and this made it a lot easier for us to understand/
3pm-ish - I discovered a cocktail of cream soda and pretend Jagermeister, which was pretty decent, and became the forfeit drink for Cards Against Humanity!
5pm-ish - Cards Against Humanity mid-game.  I spread out my successful question cards in an effort to make them look more impressive.  Note how empty my glass is in comparison to the previous photo!

After the games I enjoyed some indian food and some NCIS before falling asleep on the sofa - all in all a pretty decent day, and one that must be repeated more than once a year.

Remember - play more games!


Wednesday, 2 April 2014

April Fools - the answer!

So, what was the answer to my April Fool post?

As a recap, in my last post I gave nine truths and one lie about me, and invited people to guess which one was untrue.  The ten statements were as follows:

1) I can't swim or ride a bike.
2) Sneezing out of a window seems logical to me.
3) I once eBayed a cherry that had been kicked by Dylan Moran, the Irish comedian.
4) I massaged a Moroccan chap called Abdul.  Multiple times.
5) Stephen Fry once called me "Mark" instead of "Mike".
6) I once planned to travel around the country in a van.
7) I wrote a skit about Tony Blair.
8) I wrote a short story about a fruit machine, and a mans love for it.
9) I once conversed with Robert Llewellyn about the state of Starbug in later series of Red Dwarf.
10) As I write this, an uneaten doughnut is on a plate next to me.

The answer is number nine - although I would very much like to communicate with Robert Llewellyn, being an awesome person, the writer of one of my favourite books (The Man on Platform Five) and obviously the man behind the mask of Kryten, I haven't done so at this point in time.  Everyone seems to have been thrown off by the amazing truth that I managed to not eat a doughnut, until I had finished the post!

In other news, I hate my socks.

Seriously, just look at them.  Scum.

These socks are scratchy, and don't stretch, and are just simply not really nice to wear.  I have a selection of lovely bamboo lined socks, as well as more basic thin cotton ones.

But the trouble with these other socks is that they inevitably are worn, and then separate from one another in the washing basket/washing machine/tumble dryer/sorting of clothes process, so that I only have one of my lovely socks to wear.

And these ones are always there.  So in the end, faced with the choice of once again wearing a non-paired couple of socks, or wearing the horrible pair, I plump for the horrible pair.

Finally, thanks to everyone who has viewed my blog - I've just hit 50,000 views (by Blogger statistics anyway) which is really great.  Thank you!  And do keep an eye on my YouTube channel, I'm working on a new video which is going to be quite decent (hopefully!)

Monday, 31 March 2014

My Pre-Aprils Fools Day Aprils Fool

So, it isn't April 1st here yet - but I wanted to do a post ready for April Fools Day!

So, what I've done is listed a number of things about me.  See if you can guess which one of these is an Aprils Fool!

1) I can't swim or ride a bike.
2) Sneezing out of a window seems logical to me.
3) I once eBayed a cherry that had been kicked by Dylan Moran, the Irish comedian.
4) I massaged a Moroccan chap called Abdul.  Multiple times.
5) Stephen Fry once called me "Mark" instead of "Mike".
6) I once planned to travel around the country in a van.
7) I wrote a skit about Tony Blair.
8) I wrote a short story about a fruit machine, and a mans love for it.
9) I once conversed with Robert Llewellyn about the state of Starbug in later series of Red Dwarf.
10) As I write this, an uneaten doughnut is on a plate next to me.

See if you can guess which one of the above is false, and drop me a comment with your answer - all will be revealed later in the week!

While I'm blogging, there will be a little hiatus for my series of YouTube interviews - I don't have another YouTuber lined up to interview just now, but I would urge you to read back and check out my previous interviews:
Nick Crompton
Brutall
Jason Fisher
Scott Tumilty
CtrlAltDammit

All these guys I particularly recommend, they're well worth a watch on YouTube, all for different reasons.

Finally, I am working on a new YouTube video which I filmed at the weekend with my good friend Andy from Bad Dog's Gaming Blog, it will be a few days before the editing is finished (and it doesn't help that I keep putting it off because it's going to be a big job!) but hopefully it'll be well worth a watch when finished.

Let me know your guesses on the April fools!

Thursday, 27 March 2014

I discovered a new career - Placenta Specialist!

Allow me to clarify that I am not, and do not intend to be, a Placenta Specialist.  I just saw it on a business card today and it surprised me.  As far as I was aware, the placenta was basically the thing that keeps the baby alive before it is born, and once it is born the placenta is basically not required any more, and is somehow disposed of - how, I don't really care.  I seem to remember that you can get useful cells out of it, so maybe that's a reason for a placenta specialist?!?

In other news, I realise that it is heading for the end of March, but did you know that March is Hexagonal Awareness Month? Yes, indeed, be aware of all of the hexagons in your life, and give thanks, for the hexagon is the most even six sided shape you can get.

If it's not already clear, I don't really have anything to blog about today. But I will have!  I'm writing scripts at the moment for filming that I am doing at the weekend!  So expect a new, epic (there's a hint) video next week!

Finally, if you're really bored, you can do a quiz now, about me!  I wouldn't recommend it except that they also allow you to make quizzes about yourself too.  Here's mine:  http://games.usvsth3m.com/how-well-do-you-know/mike-raven-574618673

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Not having a Personal Trainer

So, I went to the gym last night.

This may surprise some of you, who may think that my physical appearance isn't of the utmost importance to me.

I am in shape.  Round is a shape.

I must admit that I was tempted not to go - it was about a quarter past eight when I went, and the idea did pass through my mind to, instead of going to the gym, perhaps:

  • Go to a bar and drink beer / rum / jagerbombs
  • Go to the cinema - I quite fancy seeing The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Sleep
  • Sneak out to the petrol station and buy cake and chocolate, and sit on the sofa drinking Guinness and eating sweet stuff while watching NCIS.

(By the way, I've got a new video out about drinking Guinness for people that don't like the taste of Guinness)

But, I did it.  I went to the gym.

Now the gym I go to is an inexpensive one.  It's £9.99 a month to use the gym and includes all of the classes (not that I ever go to any of them), and it suits me pretty well.  But the way I like to use the gym is to get in there, do my workout without interacting hugely with other people, and then leaving.

In particular I've never liked the idea of having a personal trainer.  Logically, I can see the point of one - if you make an appointment then you have to go, you can't get out of it, and I'm sure that they are very good at teaching you the best way to exercise and making you push a bit further than you might do by yourself.  Nevertheless, I like to go and do my thing, by myself. (Don't misunderstand me, if you know me and you see me, feel free to say hi and chitchat if you feel the need, I won't be radiating hatred because someone has interacted with me.  But the exercise itself I generally like to do just with my music for company)

I've always been slightly wary of the people that look like personal trainers at my gym, as though they might try to engage me in conversation and then offer their services, because I would have to decline, and I'd probably feel bad about declining.  So I don't go out of my way to look overly approachable, and from the moment I enter the gym to the moment I leave I have Cascada blasting out of my earphones at a volume level just below the amount necessary to cause a small earthquake.

I'll make you evacuate the dancefloor.  When I bust a move the structural stability of the building cannot be guaranteed.

Anyhow, I started on the cross-trainer, aka the "fake skiing machine", for my warm-up.  My warm-up is usually about six minutes in length, and gets my heart rate up so I'm burning fat throughout the rest of the session.

I had planned to try to go a little slower and longer this time, but little did I know that all of my plans were to fly out of the window, when about four minutes into my exercise one of the chaps from the personal trainer area (they have a little space with a table and chairs all to themselves) came over and started working out on the machine next to me.  I began to worry that the guy had spotted me and considered me the equivalent of an injured wildebeest - an easy target.  He'd probably think that all he had to do was get me to do some half-assed exercise three times a week and at least a stone would drop off in a couple of months.

He wouldn't know that he would have to keep me away from these bad boys too.

Clearly, I thought to myself, he'll be planning to wait until I stopped exercising, then compliment me on my workout, and move from there into asking if I'd ever considered having a personal trainer.

Now, I did consider jumping off the cross-trainer and running for the exit, but I had a towel on the ground that I was reluctant to abandon, plus there was some guy running up and down the space behind my cross-trainer dragging a couple of chains around (no idea why, perhaps he was a sort of emergency backup when a car really needed towing) so I'd probably trip over a chain and smash my face into a flexing muscle.

So I reasoned that the only option open to me was to keep on exercising on the cross-trainer until the personal trainer got tired, stopped, and left to find other prey.

Now, I'm not sure if this guy was "ripped", but he certainly had muscles in places where my body did not (I presume that my body made a decision some years back to let most of them die, and focus on the important typing and mouse-clicking muscles), and was unsurprisingly thinner than me.  But I went for it anyway.

I exercised.  And exercised.  And exercised.

I kept going at a rate of around 6 to 6.5 kilometres per hour, on level 6.  I don't know how fast this is, or how tough level 6 is, but it's a slightly slower than what I normally do - that said, what I normally do, I do for six or seven minutes.

About a quarter of an hour in he started mucking about with his mobile phone whilst exercising, making him look cooler and increasing my hatred of him, which was already being amply fuelled by being forced to sweat.

At the twenty two minutes mark, I glanced across and noticed that not only was he going slower than me (he was on a leisurely 4.4 kilometres per hour), he also had his cross-trainer set on a lower level.  So he was both fitter than me and doing less exercise.  This wasn't going to be easy.

At twenty eight minutes, after resorting to taking a couple of swigs from my water bottle to replace the fountain of water that had erupted from my forehead, I faced the faint possibility that my strategy of tiring the guy out might not work.

So, I made one last roll of the dice.

I accelerated.

To the sound of "Angel" by Ralph Fridge I sped up.  I passed 7 kph, and went up to 8.  8 doesn't sound like a big difference from 6.5, but trust me - it is.  I hammered away at this pace for 180 seconds, feeling like the toughest guy in the world.  My mind filled with clips of me pumping improbably large weights with 80s power ballads blasting away.

Did I do it?

Well... no.

At 32 minutes, after "travelling" 3.2 kilometres (actually further than if I had walked to the gym from my house), I gave up.  On the plus side the guy didn't stop and approach me, which makes me think that he was probably just exercising, because an overweight personal trainer probably isn't what you need.

Nevertheless, I'm quite pleased at how far and for how long I managed to exercise, and fingers crossed I can repeat it next time.

Just hopefully without the pressure of a PT threatening to talk to me!
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