Saturday, 31 December 2011

2011 Year In Review

2011 Has been a pretty crazy year, ending entirely differently than how it started. At the start of the year I was living in shared accommodation with really nice people, I mainly hung around with the 'omglan' guys, I was going out with Melissa, I worked at Switch, but most of all I didn't really have that much direction, or knowledge of what I really wanted.

Last Year's 'unwritten' story:

The previous year I had been talking to Brandi quite often. We were just friends, but very much alike. I really, really liked her, but I am not much of an Internet warrior, so I never really thought anything would happen. Around July last year I realised I genuinely liked her, though obviously had to carry on with my life (you don't wait around for a celebrity you like to like you back..). I got back with Melissa, which may or may not have been a mistake. When I got back with Melissa, I did really like her, but as time went on I realised my feelings for Brandi were too strong.

During a brief time apart from Melissa I did some thinking and realised I can't just obsess over a girl on the Internet, there is a good chance I would never see her, and maybe my feelings are unfounded, how well can you know someone you've never met? Melissa treated me really good (much better than I had treated her lately), and I felt like I was at crossroads, one side being entirely right, and the other side would have me always thinking "what if", but I didn't know which side was which. Initially I went the wrong way. I got back with Melissa and me and Brandi attempted to not speak anymore. This was fine for a couple of hours, but the feelings weren't going. I still really liked Melissa, but not in the same way. I couldn't see myself being with her forever. And I couldn't stop myself talking to Brandi. These were all signs that I shouldn't be in a relationship. It would just be leading her on.

So, 2011...

In January I broke up with Melissa. It was really difficult, but deep down I knew it was the right decision. I felt I needed to get my focus back.

I really enjoyed working at Switch. They are some of the nicest people I have worked with, but I felt I needed to move on from there. With the financial 'climate' how it is, the only way I could keep progressing would be to move jobs, so I made that decision at the start of the month. Much like the previous job search, I had one single interview which turned out to be a really good job and was offered it right after. This time I had more knowledge of my value, so I initially turned down the job due to them offering me, what I consider, much less than what I should get. They very slightly raised this, and I weighed up the potential opportunity against the initial low wages and accepted.

Only the first month and two big life changes. I was quite unsettled, to say the least!

February was going to be a bit of damage control from January. I was aiming to get everything sorted and try and get back to normal. I was still talking to Brandi every day, and one of us mentioned us meeting properly. I quickly suggested she should come over and offered her a place to stay. I couldn't go over there as I was still working, and I was trying to save for Brazil the following month.

She had suggested coming over for a couple of weeks, but possibly spending some of that time in Bristol or visiting other people. I convinced her to come over for 3 weeks, and secretly wanted to spend every second with her. She agreed to this (wooo) and I set about spending every second of the next few weeks planning what we could do.

On the 13th of February I drove to the airport to pick her up. It is possibly the most excited I had ever felt. I stood nervously in the airport. I had one song on loop on my mp3 player. It was a 7 min song, and I kept guessing how many repeats it would have before she walked out of the arrivals. I started getting worried when it got to about 6. At one point the airport was full of Asian people, but by 8 plays I was one of the few people left standing there. I didn't write down her mobile number, I had no way to contact her.

When it had gotten to about 10 plays I went and asked the airport people. They radioed through to see if anyone was there, and told me there were no "white Caucasians". I was very worried. If I had missed her it would be terrible. I couldn't leave there, just in case. I'd end up being like Tom Hanks in The Terminal. And then she walked out.

I am normally a confident guy, but after a hug I had no idea what to say. You could even see I was nervous by my walk. I pretty much forgot how to drive, and forgot how to get home. But it was so nice having her there. She was beautiful.

The next three weeks were amazing. Mostly. My day plans went off without a hitch. We did loads of things. Later on when people asked how long I had been with her they were very surprised at 3 weeks since it seems like we had been together ages from the pictures. After the initial nervousness I felt so comfortable with her. It felt like we had been together forever. She met my friends and they really liked her too, a few even added her on Facebook.

As I said, things were only 'mostly' good. For two reasons. Since it hadn't been long since I broke up with Melissa, I asked my friends to keep it quiet from her. I wasn't being dishonest, when I broke up I told her that it was because I wanted to find someone else. Regardless, I knew she wouldn't take it well. One of the evenings I made the mistake of replying to loads of posts on my Facebook wall, but accidentally logged in her Brandi. Melissa instantly saw this and sent many nasty messages. I tried to ignore these and carry on with my week.

A few days later I found out that Melissa had kept asking my friends about it, and one of them told her everything about it. He had previously added Brandi on Facebook, and had pasted Melissa her status about me buying her flowers. He told her that we had invited him for a meal, and told her he said no because he thought I had been to bad to Melissa. There was more, but its not worth a bigger paragraph. I instantly broke connections with this person, letting the other few people in my group know why. When I did it I clearly stated my reasons, with proof, to ensure it wasn't twisted and I wasn't called a liar. I didn't say anything offencive, just that I didn't want to hang around any more.

My friends didn't exactly back me up with this. My best friend who I had known for ages told me he had cancelled his BBQ, just because the other guy said he wouldn't go if I did. He had told people I was lying about it, and my friends chose not to bother even reading the proof I said with the message. I was feeling pretty down.

On top of this, my mom wasn't exactly loving the situation. She had made it very clear that she didn't like me dating a girl I had just met off the Internet. And I felt more betrayed when I found out she had told Melissa that I brought Brandi to meet the family.

I felt pretty alone, the only person I had was Brandi. I felt like the friendships I thought I had were possibly non-existent, and that most people wouldn't bother to see me if I didn't arrange to see them first. I ended up not really seeing a lot of my friends for a while.

March can be seen as the 'rock bottom'. Something like the Sun between the 21st December and the 25th. I was probably at my lowest, but then towards the end there was a 1 degree rise.

It was coming to the end of Brandi's trip to England. It was really sad because I didn't know when I was going to see her again. We had such a good time, but there was so much uncertainty. All I knew is that I wanted to be with her forever.

A couple of days after she left I started my new job. I was nervous about this, as in the interview they kept saying how it is a really hard job, and that I have to be a really good programmer, etc. I was very honest and told them I am still learning and progressing quickly, but I am far from 'the best'. When I started it was reminiscent to being at my first programming job. The systems were huge, and it felt like I would never learn them all, but I think I fit in really well and became useful almost instantly.

Starting the job wasn't ideal, as later in the month I had a trip to Brazil. I asked them if I could start after, as I didn't want to lose 2 weeks holiday, especially after starting part way through the year. I needed holiday left because I planned to go to Canada and visit Brandi. They wouldn't let me, but told me if I start they could look at letting me have time off unpaid.

I had neglected boxing training the last two months. I either didn't have time, or felt too down to go. Normally this would be fine, but I had a fight coming up on the 18th. It was a fight against a guy that is widely seen as the best in my weight at the gym. I didn't have many private sessions because of the new job, so I didn't have much of a game plan. My fitness wasn't really there, and my confidence was even less.

I had kept almost everything off my blog. All I had written on everything was this post.

The night of the fight came and I wasn't feeling confident. I forgot to eat before the fight, I didn't even really do pads. I just sat there waiting. The fight went quite well, but it ended in a draw. In the final round I was up by a few points but let it slip. I felt like I let myself down somewhat.

The good thing about the fight is that I didn't break any ribs, which meant I could go to Brazil still the following week. I was going with Andy, my ex girlfriend's (Tara) old best friend's (Freya) ex boyfriend. We hadn't seen a lot of each other over the years past, but he seemed to have the 'traveller spirit', and thought he'd be a good person to go on holiday with.

Brazil was really fun, and beautiful. I was able to build a card tower using every card (something I thought I'd never do!) . It gave me a lot of time to think about what I want (while I was jogging along Copacabana Beach). And what I wanted was Brandi. But she lives in Canada, and I have no money. I really, really have no money. I had just spent 3 weeks taking her to all these places to impress her. I had just under a month unemployed, then I had to wait another month to get paid from the new places, and in that time I was in Brazil, that I hadn't saved for). I needed money.

When I got back in April I decided to move out of my place and back to my parents. I felt like my life was changing, and I needed to be able to afford the changes. Brandi had discussed moving over here, but it's difficult. She can't work as a nurse here without having a years experience there (of which she had 1 month), so if she did I would have to support her.

I had looked at getting flights to Canada. I had hardly any days holiday left. I could manage about 1 week, but it would mean having no further days off. I emailed the work people about getting unpaid holiday mentioned previously by the recruitment consultant. They told me they don't allow that, and that I could possibly take 1 day unpaid. I was screwed. It was so annoying, as it was stopping me doing what I valued over everything else, seeing Brandi. I had even considered leaving just so I could have more time to see her. And then... a huge strike of luck, they changed the working year, effectively giving everyone 5 days extra holiday.

I also had a nice trip to London, where I met my favourite blog friend and eat noodles, stayed with Neil, and caught up with Australian Kellie.

Thankfully, because of being extremely frugal in Brazil I had some money left, but I still eagerly awaited pay day, got a credit card on top, and bought an engagement ring.

In May I got to cross two things off my list, in what was a really memorable weekend. I went to Scotland (for the first time) with my mom and dad, to try and drive all the way to John O Groats, the furthest north-east you can go in UK. Along the way I saw the Lake District for the first time, and later on I managed to convince my parents to try and climb Ben Nevis, and we are all really glad we did. They impressed me a lot, and we all bonded because of it. We then went on to John O Groats, and saw some amazing sites along the way. We ended up having an argument, mainly because of how things had built up over the last few months, but that is less memorable than the rest of the weekend.

The engagement ring arrived part way through the month. I was excited, and thought it was beautiful. Though it was also another reminder that I needed to start saving money, so I first downgraded my car (petrol, tax and insurance on it was crazy!).

More importantly I booked my flights to Canada, with all my plans to propose in place.

At the start of June I went to Vancouver. It was an amazing two weeks spent in a beautiful part of the world. On the second week we went to a picturesque island and went for a walk, and I looked for a scenic area to propose, and nervously got down on one knee. I was most nervous about being with her when she told her parents, but I really liked her family so hoped it would all be okay.

Writing all this reminds me of a post I made quite a while back, over a year to be precise. In the post I said about how happy I was, and I was nervous that at any point things would crash down harder, and although it did at the start of the year, it shot right back up after Brandi said "yes" in June.

When July came I pretty much hadn't done any training in a while. I had maybe sparred a few times, but nothing big. That would be fine, and stuff, but I had a boxing fight to go to. I also had no support there, as the tickets were £100. I had no fitness, but I was still confident that my technique would win it. I was wrong.

It had been 4 months since I had started my new job, and I felt like I was settling in quite well. I got on with Dave Jr and Dave Sr well, and they were good to talk to. The work I was doing was manageable, and actually quite fun in parts, so that side of my life was going good.

Me and Brandi still talked every day, and planned when she would come over. We decided she would come over either early September or late June. I pushed for the latter, and looked around to a house we could rent while she was here. I found a nice Tudor-style house in Moseley, a really nice part of Birmingham.

I spent the first half of August trying to make the house look presentable for Brandi's arrival. It was pretty messy at the start, but my dad helped me paint some walls and I cleaned lots. Though while I was trying to clean the house, idiots around the UK were trying to destroy everything in a week of riots. This was a nice way to welcome Brandi to England for her 3 and a half month visit.

When she arrived it was so exciting. Aside from the fact that I actually slept in and was a bit late picking her up from the airport (I felt so, so bad). It was my first time living with a girlfriend, and anyone that complains about it is crazy.

September, October and November are all a blur. I enjoyed every single second (maybe apart from getting stung by a wasp, during the night, for the first time in 20 years). I was excited to come back from work every day, and would have fun just watching TV programs together (Always Sunny, Community, The Office, Gavin and Stacey, Dexter, Amazing Race, Coupling), and playing computer games together. We also painted paintings! An activity I haven't done probably since I was last stung by a wasp, but enjoyed a lot. Her mom and brother stayed with us while they were travelling Europe, but I'm not sure we made England look as good as we could have. We went to Estonia, our first mini holiday together, and had a really good time (apart from the stupid border control woman being a bitch). And after trying to come up with an idea, the night before we managed to come up with Halloween costumes we were happy with. So happy I blue everywhere. We went on double dates with Lee and Gemma, and I introduced Brandi to my friends that she hadn't met. We planned our wedding, which we had originally decided to be in Canada, but changed to be Mexico. The future was looking bright, and if it's like this forever I will be pretty damn happy.

All in all they were 3 amazing months.

December was sad. We knew it had to come to an end, but the time was going by so fast. We couldn't spend Christmas this year together, but my family put on a nice mock-Christmas. We also made an awesome gingerbread house. But alas, our baking activities wouldn't mean she didn't have to leave, and on the 8th of December she was gone.

I started moving all my things back to my parents from our house in Moseley, as it suddenly felt really, really empty without her. Although now I won't be seeing her until the wedding it doesn't feel as sad as when she went home in March. Now I know that I will see her again, there is no uncertainty, and for anyone wondering... I have absolutely no doubts about getting married.

Christmas came extremely quickly. It is possibly one of the best Christmases I have had (though it's hard to remember the ones from when I was younger, aside from a few small but vivid memories). I got to spend time with my family, drinking whisky and playing board games. Playing computer games with my nephews, and seeing friends. Ellie and Savannah seem much older now, and have got to the age where I can have little tea parties with them.

Tonight I will be going to Joe's house for new years, but I am not going to bother waiting to write about it. I used to attach a lot of importance to New Years Eve, as being the first day of the year, it sets the standard for how your year will be. I don't as much now, as looking back it hasn't really ever been any sort of indication. April is usually the month that you know.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

119) Build an awesome gingerbread house

Me and Brandi lived in our first place together this year from late August until she left in early December. This is partly because I wanted to spend loads of time with her, and partly because I know she is good at making gingerbread houses.

With Christmas closely approaching in December we decided to start work on the gingerbread house. Buying the ingredients cost quite a lot of money, mainly because I just got a shite load of sweets. Brandi upset me by saying she wanted to get a mould for it. Not on my watch. This 100 Things to Do list must be done properly. A mould is one step away from just buying the house.

I didn't take many photos of making the house, mainly because it was so annoying, and we didn't finish until about 4 days after we started.

Making the gingerbread was difficult because we needed an electric whisk, so I had to stir really hard. Then we had to freeze the mix. It took us another two days until we decided not to be lazy and to finish it, but the next step was to cut the shapes out. I did all the pieces... wrong, so then I wanted nothing more to do with it so I went and played on the computer while Brandi fixed it.

When she was done cutting the shapes I was more willing to help again, so I put the oven on. Very helpful. It wouldn't have been finished without the oven being turned on.

We then put the walls together using an icing sugar based cement, and left it until it was ready to decorate.

Brandi decorated one side of the roof. It was 'pretty', but it wasn't gingerbread house-y enough. It was more like the decoration someone with OCD might do.

I showed her how it should be done! Handfulls of sweets thrown at the roof! And I finished it off with a Curly Whirley roof and gates. Brandi added trees made out of ice cream cones.

I was quite pleased! And I think we impressed our visitors. It didn't really get eaten because nobody really loves gingerbread, but it made the house smell nice.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Tallinn, Estonia: My Memoirs

On the 21st October 2011 me and Brandi took our first holiday together (where we were 'both' on holiday). We decided to go to Tallinn, the Medieval capital of Estonia.

- Being on a plane with Brandi for the first time of many.

- Going to Kumu Art Museum. A crazy museum with exhibits including a woman licking a baby, the same woman lying naked with puppies crawling on her, and a room full of carvings of heads and one bird.

- Going site-seeing around Old Town, a really medieval city with amazing looking city walls and towers.

- Getting drunk together and eating crisps in the hotel room on really nice Estonian vodka.

- Going to an old KGB room on the secret 23rd floor of the main hotel in Tallinn. Being amazed with how recently the Soviets forcibly occupied Estonia and how weird life must have been under their rule.

- Walking around the outskirts of Tallinn, looking for the abandoned prison. Finding a crazy looking factory complex, and getting a much better idea what of Tallinn is like.

- Being extremely disappointed with Hesburger after remembering it as being really nice in Lithuania.

- Going to a nightclub called Hollywood. It took quite a while to find, but was very worthwhile inside. Brandi had guys talking to her, and then had girls push into her that must have realised I was Captain Vestman ;).

- Going to the Lahemaa National Park, the biggest in Soviet Russia when it was under their control. Seeing a waterfall that looked like the road just broke away. I got to walk behind the waterfall.

- Hearing the interesting history of Estonia from the tour guide, and their struggle being between Germany and Russia in World War 2.

- Visiting the abandoned Soviet submarine base, and learning about how the submarines would go through a magnetised spiral underwater, which would reset their magnetic signature making them undetectable by radar and underwater mines. It was a really interesting place with Soviet Propaganda pictures.

- Going to Kasmu, known as 'Captains Village', an old well known port. Had a great scenic view from a Soviet watch tower, followed by an amazing lunch made by the millionaire owner of a home-built museum.

- Driving around and getting out in different areas to see the amazing Estonian wilderness.

- Going on a swing that is a common past-time for younger people, who get drunk, swing high and then try and jump off into trees.

- Walking through a forest and seeing beaver dams, and drinking water from a natural spring.

- Going on a 3km hike through their famous bog that in places was over 2m deep. The surroundings were truly amazing.

- Trying to decide what to start collecting with Brandi.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Halloween 2011

For Halloween this year me and Brandi spent ages trying to think of a costume. In the end we thought of Tobias and Lindsay F√ľnke, from Arrested Development.

I completely 'blued up', complete with never-nude cut-offs. Since most people don't actually know who they are, here is a picture of them in Arrested Development.

On Thursday night we carved pumpkins. I am not very good at doing them usually, but I think I did quite well! Brandi's looks amazing. It is an old groaning man. Mine was a face, and I tried to give it a hair outline, which looked really bad, but then I put the cut out bit back in giving it an outline glow.

On the Saturday night we went to a house party (in the above costumes). I got quite drunk at a house party near my old house. Most people thought I was a Smurf, or an Avatar person. Only one American actually got who I was. I am quite pleased, being someone quite unknown is what I usually aim for, like Antoine Dodson last year (also shows all my other fancy dress things)

On the actual night of Halloween I went to my mom and dads, and we had a Halloween party, and then I went Trick or Treating with my nephews and nieces. It was really fun. We decided to only knock on the doors of people that have Halloween decorations, as they are likely to expect people coming around. It was nice to see that so many people had got in the spirit of it (pun) with some putting up really good decorations, and one lady inviting them in to see her life-size spooky waiter statue.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

My Third Boxing Fight

Back in July I had my third boxing fight. I wrote a post just before saying I was quite confident. I was. Despite not having much chance to train, I felt like I had improved a lot from my last fight, and a huge amount from my first fight. Regardless, on the night things didn't quite go my way.

I fought at the Burlington Hotel in Birmingham. It was an event put on for charity, by one of Birminghams law firms. Most of the fights involved one of the many boxers that work there (it must be a job that leads to a lot of anger).

When I came out (they cut the start off my music which really pissed me off) I was boo'd, a lot. It was more of a pantomime situation, as it happened in all fights. Every time I hit him I was boo'd, and every time he hit me he was cheered. I started enjoying the boo's, as it meant I was doing something right. I had no support there as tickets cost £100 each.

Personally, I think the scoring was questionable, but regardless, for some reason I fought again without raising my hands. For some reason I feel a lot more relaxed when my hands are low. It makes me feel like I can slip punches easier, but it means I get hit a lot more, which attributed to him winning it 30 - 25.

Here is a video and pictures:

You can see the full, uncut (apart from the entrances) fight here.

Monday, 3 October 2011

15) Paint a painting

On the 11th of September me and Brandi decided we would paint. We bought a couple of canvases, some paint and a set of brushes. We readied the table with cookies, knives and sink scrubbers (for effect), forgetting any newspaper. We set the atmosphere with alcohol and 'trippy music' and began painting.

We decided to go abstract, for obvious reasons.

I was ready to attack the canvas with akimbo brushes

Brandi prepares her mind

This sort of thing can't be done wearing trousers.

Brandi's complete painting.

My complete painting.

I am willing to admit that Brandi's painting looks a lot better than mine. Hers looks like something you could possibly buy in a shop, and mine looks like something your child brings home from primary school. BUT... mine has a lot more meaning. I shall go into detail.

A) A big 1.
B) A big 'V'. Roman numerals for '5'. With the '1' before it, it becomes '1 5', number 15 on my list. It isn't 4 in Roman numerals, or it wouldn't be overlapping the 'V'.

C) C in Roman numerals, meaning '100'. This is for my 100 things to do list.

D) My 'life line', running right through the painting. This attaches to my 'C', 100 things to do list, as that helps spur my life on, keeping me doing things.

E) F) G) H) My family initials, when using the huge 'V' becomes 'JACK V', an old password we used to use for family things.

I) A sign for infinite, which again comes from my 'C', 100 things to do list. This is to symbolise me not dying.

J) A planet, also coming from the 100 things to do list to symbolise my travelling.

K) The colours of the Captain Vestman vest. The colour is the background to C, I and J, as they all relate.

L) Clearing coming off my Life Line, is a 'B', making the initials BV for Brandi Vogstad.

M) To show my immature side, I have drawn a big long abstract penis in blue.

N) My favourite colours outlining a corner of the painting.

There are a few other things to do with different colours, but an artist shouldn't reveal everything.

And here is the magnificent piece of art in all it's high resolution glory. 

They are currently both hanging on the walls in our house.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Night Ninja Wasp

Last night I had a dream about this game (it was with pans, you split up different kitchen pans and knives, and then one person would put down a pan, and the next person had to put one down that was bigger. It made sense at the time). Then, a guy put the knives in the dishwasher, but they were sticking up. In the dream I then went to push them down, but one of the knives got stuck, and stabbed me in the finger. I said "ahh, that hurt", but I couldn't see a mark, and he said "yeah, I saw that coming".

Then, still in the dream, I walked to another kitchen to get more pans to play again, and suddenly I heard this buzz and jumped up in pain. On the bed lay a wasp, and I must have rolled over and put my hand on it and it stung me. In the dream I must have quickly thought that it was a sharp knife that hurt, and all happened fast enough for the dream to briefly continue before the pain fully hit. How bizarre. I didn't want to get revenge on the wasp, so I got it in a glass and threw it outside.

I had recently said I wanted to know what a wasp sting felt like now, since the last time I was stung I was very young, and it was on my toe while I was on the swing, bare footed, in the garden. It actually hurt a lot more than I would have thought.

The rest of the night was spent having nightmares that the room was full of wasp nests.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Online Gaming: My Memoirs

I like to play computer games. This started when my parents had an oldschool game thing that apparently only worked when the TV volume was at a certain level. They then bought a Megadrive when I was 4. I played a few different PC games as I got older, but I didn't start properly playing until I was 10. Here are my memoirs:

Microsoft Ants - 1998 (Aged 10)
First real online gaming. Me and Leigh became a good team (for two 10 year olds that just started playing the game). We made a clan called 'PTDC'. Until this day I don't think I had told anyone what it meant. I didn't quite realise what clan tags were, but knew it had to be initials. All I could think about was (and don't judge me, I was 10) the initials of my 4 main teddy bears, Panda, Ted, Dog, and Cheekaboo. I only remember one other person in our clan, PTDC_OAKER2000 (maybe 3000). Back then I was known simply as PTDC_Andy. I wasn't every imaginative.

Quake 2 Demo - 1998 (Aged 10)
Since Antz was on the Microsoft Zone network, I spent most of my time on that. I noticed another popular free game, which was the multiplayer version of the Quake 2 Demo. Me and Leigh occasionally went on this and it was fun. This was where I first learned how to use console commands (much to my moms amusement), such as sv_gravity -10, followed by sv_gravity 3000.

Worms Armageddon - 1999 (Aged 11)
Looking for other games, me and Leigh started playing Worms Armageddon. We actually got surprisingly good at it, and as PTDC we became one of the better known clans. We had a big rivalry with another clan, known as XMEN. We were generally better than them, and had another guy named 'PTDC_Nameless', real name Omar Sultan, an Egyption.

A memorable time was once, during a clan match with XMEN (I believe it may have been our final ever clan match with them), we were drawing 1 game each, and towards the end of the game one of our own players suicide killed our final worm. In the lobby chat after he laughed, and revealed he was actually the deputy of the XMEN clan. They got the last laugh there.

TFC 1.5 - June 1999 (Aged 11)
While on a caravan club rally I bought an issue of PC Gamer, which had a huge feature about Half-Life in it. After playing the Quake 2 demo, I decided to give it a go. The Half-Life multiplayer wasn't that fun, but I tried 'Team Fortress 1.5', which a shortcut to was sneakily added to to my desktop when installing Half-Life. I loved it, and played it for quite a while. I originally had the name PTDC_Andy (not realising the correct format was [Clan Tag]). I then dropped the clan tag, since I wasn't in a TFC clan.

Later on I met a guy named 'Dazz', who was the leader of a clan and he let me join his. Later on I was in a game and a guy asked me about the clan, and what I thought of the leader. I said he seemed like a really nice guy, he then realved himself to be Dazz, and was testing me. I still speak to him occasionaly on Facebook, 12 years later.
A while later in TFC I decided to make my own clan. While in a public server 2 other guys said they wanted to make one too. One was called Jeff, who suggested we be called Dark Knights From Hell, or [DKFH]. I still have [DKFH]Jeff on Facebook, but I didn't ever get the ICQ name of the other guy, and never saw him again.

Counter-strike Beta 5.2+ - February 2000 - 2004 (aged 12 - 16)
While playing TFC, it was noticable that more and more players were leaving to play Counter-strike. This was a lot more realistic shooting game, so I didn't warm to it right away. After giving in I started to play. My first game was with Dazz, and I think it was either on de_dust or cs_747, andt my score was something along the lines of 0 - 34. I distinctly remember not being able to kill anyone. Eventually I picked it up more and became addicted. This was the first time I would say I became obsessed with a game, playing every day. My first name was Assassin2k, though I went through many.

My friends soon started playing this, and it quickly spread to lots of people in the school. The growth of Counter-strike was phenomenal. Since I'm no longer in school I can't compare it to Call of Duty, but when I look at the games now I think "pah, it will never be like counter-strike was". Everyday after school we all played together. We had many clans, such as RR (Russian Revolution), and a monkey one, where we were all named monkey names. My name was "Funky_Monkey", which it stuck at for a while, my friends had names such as "Lumpy_Monkey", and "Spunky_Monkey". Leigh was called "The Monkey of Chaos", but made it a bit better later with "Chaos Monkey".

During this time we frequented servers such as Shady (where I hated most people), and Mr Kitty's (who had a really nice admin that I used to speak to on MSN). We later got our own clan server, and always abused our powers with 'slap'.

Towards the end of my Counter-Strike times I joined BP, and was known as $kill$hot, later Skillshot, and left BP settled in WA (Whoopass) with a clan leader DaFunk (a Northern Irish guy name Kyle Byrne, also on my Facebook). Other memorable people were Sami and Emmanual. Leigh stayed in BP, and went on to run TheSGL with the leader of BP.

Counter-strike was the first game that we started to go by the name 'omgLAN', later 'omglan', when we went to each others house and set our clan tag as such and played on the same team.

The Specialists - 2003 (aged 15)
I feel like The Specialists should get an honourable mention. I used to play many mods. One that I loved was The Opera, a mostly single player mod where you could shoot while diving, using akimbo guns (also taught me what akimbo meant). Later on I played The Specialists, like The Opera, but multiplayer, slow motion, you could run up wall, stop bullets, etc. It was amazing. Me and Neil played this quite a lot, and I got known as one of the best kung-fu people in the game, being able to top score lists without even using guns. My equal was known as "Bruce lee", not a very original game name.

World of Warcraft Dec 2004  - July 2007 (aged 17 - 20)
In the second year of college, Liam introduced me to World of Warcraft. I've never been into fantasy things, but for some reason I instantly decided I wanted to play. This was either a great idea or a huge mistake. World of Warcraft is the most addictive game ever. My character was called Trionell Blackspeed, named after my computer, though I had to drop the Blackspeed initially since you can't have spaces.

By this time, Leigh, my original gaming partner, was spending most of his time working on TheSGL and not playing games. I had convinced Neil to play, though it was a bit after I had started so we rarely got to work together, since we were different level (similar to Me and Liam, who aside from seeing him once, I had never played with). Some weekends Neil would come over to my house with his laptop and we would play most of the night.

I wasn't very good at the game initially, getting to level 60 and still not really knowing how to play. Still upset that my name didn't have the 'Blackspeed', I started a 'guild' (new word for clan, apparently) called 'Blackspeed', so my name was full. I decided to invite as many people in the server as I could, and Blackspeed instantly became one of the biggest (far from best) clans on the original Burning Legion server (same as the original Nihilum guild). One memorable person from our guild was 'Niffer', infamous for ninja-looting one of the rarest items in the game, the Barons horse.

Later on I started taking the game more seriously, and lost almost every waking hour to it during college. It was pretty much the reason I did badly. I joined a new server, Ahn'Quiraj, created a Gnome mage (also called Trionell), and the top PvP guild and quickly became Grand Marshall on the server (top PVP rank). This is when I would class myself as a hardcore game. The guild started doing PvE (fighting in top instances) and I started leading the raids and organising everything. I had some good friends, such as an Italian couple.

I mostly lost interest after this became I realise I had spent ridiculous amounts of time playing the game over 2 years and didn't have much to show for it. I finally broke myself away from playing it, but often have flashbacks.

Playstation 3 - August 2007 (aged 20+)
This was the point that I stopped really playing games as much. I went to University (I can't really say I had less time...), but always stopped myself playing WoW, because I knew it would mean I would completely fail.  My days being a 'hardcore gamer' stopped, and I became casual.

Monday, 15 August 2011

92) Eat noodles in London

I spent Saturday 30th and Sunday 31st of July in London. I was going back to retry a failed trip I had back in April. I had arranged it so that on the Saturday I would see Neil and go to a party at Amy's house, and on the Sunday I would meet Jane, a fellow blogger, and Australian Kellie.

I woke up Saturday morning confused, in someone's bed (alone..), in an almost entirely empty house in Camden. I left the house and decided to make my way to the centre of London. Along the way I got bored of walking and paid £1 for the use of a bike for a day. I sat in the part for a couple of hours learning to do the Rubik's Cube, and then set off to one of the undergrounds to meet Jane.
I have spoke to Jane through the blogging world for over a year. Being someone who has read my list, and also has her own list (with some pretty funny things on), she offered to help me cross of my number 92, 'eat noodles in London'. So at about 1pm the short woman with the messy hair, met the homeless looking guy with the messy hair.

I followed Jane, who knows much more about London than me (having lived there, amongst many other cities of the world), and went to China Town, which I think was near Leicester Square. She decided on a really nice Chinese restaurant and we went in and sat down. I, like always, found Jane to be really interesting and funny, and she has many stories, and is constantly doing new things, so the conversation was flowing.
I had no idea what to order from the menu, so Jane ordered lots of different Dim Sum things. I can't remember what many of them were, but it was interesting trying them all. She also ordered the all important Shanghai Noodles (which were very nice).

We finished the food and walked around Covent Garden talking, while I made my way towards meeting Kellie. We said our goodbyes near Leicester Square, and made sure to have a proper photo (which proved to be more difficult than I'd hoped).

A big thank you to Jane for helping me to cross another item off the list!

Friday, 12 August 2011

The day I parked in a disabled space in a hurry

This week I had a really embarrassing moment. I was driving past the supermarket and decided to quickly rush in (mainly just to use their toilet, though I did do a polite 'once over' one of the aisles). As I walked out to my car I was horrified to see that I had accidentally parked in a disabled spot. I have never done this before, but the people walking past me didn't know that, and they stared at me angrily the whole time they walked past. There was also a man sat in his car giving me evil looks too.

I put my head down, like a criminal leaving court, and hastily got my key out. I could feel the eyes of the judging people drilling into me as I fumbled to open the door, which seemed to be impossible. And then it clicked. It was impossible... since I had walked over to the wrong car. The car of a disabled person.

With the judging people still staring I had to quickly walk past the car to my own, get in, and speed off. I don't know if it is worse to park in a disabled space, or to be seen to be trying to break into a disabled persons car.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

53) Join a riot

I am very, very pissed off with these riots, and would just like to start this by saying that I have not participated just to cross it off the list.

The riots apparently started when a drug dealer was shot and killed by the police when he pulled out a gun. Since then, some twats have just used it as an excuse to rampage throughout the country, stealing and breaking stuff. It started in London, then spread to Birmingham, then to Manchester, Liverpool, Bristol, Nottingham, Leeds and now there's reports of all other places too.

These are just opportunist thugs, with nothing to actually protest. They say different things like it is because society, or police aren't respectful, and annoyingly the BBC are/were actually calling them protesters.

What the country needs now are some vigilantes (which I have always agreed with), to come in and make an example of some people to show them that they can't just ruin our society. These people obviously have no standards or morals, as you can see them trying to rob closed sandwich stores, McDonalds, and pound shops. Wtf.

These riots made me think about my number 53 on the list. When I added this I was thinking about a more peaceful riot, if there is such a thing. I see a protest as people standing being mostly ignored, and a riot as people making more noise, using slight force, but non-violent and nothing to actually damage things, just disrupt.

Although I had vowed to not take anything off the list, I am considering taking this off, since rioting sucks. I was hoping for something that is actually worth 'rioting' for, but I don't know...

All I hope is that every single person gets caught, owned, and although they won't all fit in prison, I hope they all get house arrest/curfew for a long, long time.