b3ta.com user syllopsium
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» Impulse buys

Drysuit triumphs!
I've been thinking of a new activity, and friends enjoy kayaking so I decided to pop along. Now, it may be that in more pleasant climes of the world kayaking is carried out on still lakes in glorious sunshine; unfortunately here it's on a cold May evening riding choppy waves on a murky reservoir.

My performance was about as impressive as could be expected from someone who didn't know one end of a boat from another (i.e. a bit crap), but at least I managed not to fall in or to get too wet, even though a fair bit of water came over the side. I was minded, however, of the Capsize Drill the following week. This sounded cold, and very wet..

Off I trunded to a local shop, which was more into diving, and enquired about a wetsuit. Full wetsuits are ok for colder UK weather as long as you don't fall in the water - they're made of tight neoprene which holds a layer of water close, so that your body can heat it. Still, I wasn't intending to fall in often..

Then, I heard the magic words 'Well, I can do you a decent wetsuit for 60 quid, but there are entry level drysuits at 150'. *DING* Impulse upselling!

Drysuits are fundamentally different - the low end ones suitable for watersports (but not for proper diving) typically use a breathable membrane with latex seals around your extremities and a Big Fuckoff Zip so that you can step into it. The seals are so effective initially that you have to make sure they're carefully moved round that pulsating vein in your neck that's trying to stop you developing stars before your eyes. It's probably also quite amusing when you sit on the store floor and try to mime particularly cackhanded paddling movements, without actually having a paddle.. or in fact, when you get into them the wrong way and get your head stuck in the neck seal. Pray that your friends don't have cameras.

I went for it though, especially after learning it really should have been £220(!). The next week came round, I slipped into the water with slightly greater ease, managed not to paddle in circles quite so much and actually really quite enjoyed myself - it's a pretty good way to chill out with a little swell and sunlight over the water.

Capsize Drill loomed, however.. I psyched myself up slightly to capsize the kayak and went for it! Slipping the boat round, banging on the hull whilst upside down, then sliding out hoping that myself and the drysuit wouldn't be claimed by the cold, wet, inky blackness of the reservoir.

I felt.. almost nothing at all! Perhaps I was a little colder, and the buoyancy aid is desperately keeping you afloat but it did the job. My socks were later found to be mildly damp, possibly from condensation. Floating on the water, with no noticeable effects other than wet hair is quite bizarre, and actually not that unpleasant.

Viva le drysuit!
(Thu 21st May 2009, 13:41, More)

» Banks

Short and sweet in scifi style
Despite the fact I am now (just) old enough to legally have my own adult children if I was mad enough, my bank card still has me listed as 'Master'.


I like this, in a rather sad Doctor Who style.

(even if it's not related to that)
(Wed 22nd Jul 2009, 11:45, More)

» Impulse buys

Food, camera, stuff under a tenner
I've just realised that, in fact, I do plenty of impules purchasing - but only if it's under a tenner..

Also, as an aside, after my camera failed I managed to pick up a Casio Exilim EX-Z20 8.1Mp from Boots for £67. Result!

Anyway, food. I cannot resist buying new and unusual food from supermarkets, particularly from the world foods section. This is why I have found myself with a load of dried fish, more wet tamarind than I can use in a couple of years, more spices than you can shake a stick at and.. a tin of Callaloo.

Callaloo is a Carribean vegetable described as 'almost, but not quite entirely, unlike spinach'. Unfortunately a friend who comes round regularly for dinner spotted it, and now I have the challenge to create a dish with it. I've got a recipe, and need to try it before cooking it for them in two weeks or so.

I also find it rather difficult to avoid cheap DVDs and computer games if 'I was going to buy them anyway'. Once it goes below about a fiver, and definitely below 3 quid, I assume I'll never get it cheaper and then - suddenly hooked. I've got about 10 films and 8 computer games I've not even *started*.
(Thu 21st May 2009, 14:37, More)

» Failed Projects

Inline skates
Years ago, I was bored and needed something new to do. I know! Go to Manchester, buy a pair of inline skates (having to go avoid lots of little brats) and skate around everywhere for fitness!

Used them a few times, on the local street, stuck them in a drawer.

Moved house near the countryside. I would therefore practice using my skates to skate around everywhere, up and down the hills and at some point be hardcore and skate around Norway!

Skating on flat smooth concrete/tarmac is quite easy and good fun. Skating on uneven roads with with crappy tarmac appears not to be possible. Braking on anything other than smooth tarmac is also tricky

It may be that either my skates or my technique is crap, but I reckon they're just not very good on a crappy country road.

Mountain biking and kayaking are a bit easier to handle. I should probably get rid of the skates as the chance of using them is pretty low.
(Fri 4th Dec 2009, 15:02, More)

» Impulse buys

Less successful technological purchases
Mostly, I don't do impulse purchases. I research, research, and research again until I've bored myself to death and am sure I want the item.

Still, I am not immune, especially to the delights of cut price computer hardware. I've made several purchases, but some less successful ones including :

Winterm 3630LE. Gorgeous piece of kit - thin client in a 15" TFT. Only problem : never use it, and Windows CE 2.11 doesn't connect to Vista without crashing.

WinTV Celebrity. Now *this* is a serious piece of engineering. Full length ISA card, takes in the output from VGA, overlays TV/video, and outputs its own image. Does video capture, supports really high resolution. Originally 600 quid or so, got it for 30. Unfortunately, drivers were a bit variable and never really used it much.

Sigma Designs Reelmagic. Now this really was a bum purchase - ISA card - does MPEG 1/Video CD decoding without needing any CPU. Only problem : about three games supported it - all of which were crap, MPEG was dying at the time in favour of MPEGII/DVD, and practically every Video CD is shit. Still not got around to chucking it out.

dalsemi Tini. It's a neat low power board with networking, 1 wire connectivity for things like temperature sensors, onboard java stack etc. Only problem : 1MB RAM and quite slow. Suddenly realised that I wasn't actually certain what useful purpose I could do with it.

Skype/SIP gateway. Links your phone to Skype, so that everyone calls you on one phone. Only problem : isn't it a good idea to figure out if people want to call you on Skype, first? Never even opened the packet..
(Thu 21st May 2009, 14:16, More)
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