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charlie, computer cat

February 2019

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Feb. 11th, 2019

webdesigner - chez geek

(no subject)

Fell down a rabbit hole this weekend of pricing Magic cards. Basically, as part of tidying up the library, Alex and I decided that realistically, we're just not going to get back into playing with our old Magic cards, and my default reaction was to say that in that case, we should just chuck them out but Alex was sure that we ought to do *something* with them - perhaps sell them, perhaps pass them on to someone who still plays. We couldn't think of anyone in the latter category, so on Saturday morning, I started looking into selling options. I'd initially assumed that we'd just sell the whole thing in bulk to someone, perhaps through GamesKeeper, and was focused on finding out what a sensible "lucky dip" type price would be but all the threads I found seemed to suggest that you should sell the singles yourself. Even that might not have convinced me on it's own, but for two things - number one was that I recognized at least two high value cards as ones I was certain I had somewhere (we're talking over £100 per card here) and number two was that I found a site specifically dedicated to providing a UK market place for Magic singles, meaning I wouldn't have to worry about complicated postage problems.

I decided to give it a try so I took one of our boxes of old decks and went through about half of them, pulled all the rares and uncommons and then went through and listed them. I found one of the really valuable cards I'd remembered in the process and by the time I'd listed them all the collection was worth about £500, which made me decide to take the plunge and go the whole hog. Over the rest of the weekend, I sorted about 40% of the boxes and listed all the rares/uncommons I could easily identify and the collection is now worth about £2500, which is a significant chunk of a holiday if it actually sells. The big unknown at the moment is how much of it actually will sell. I did get one sale almost immediately but it was for a card that I realised afterwards I'd significantly underpriced so that's not necessarily an indication of how busy things will be but I guess I can only wait and see. If it goes well, there are lots of cards still in the boxes that might be worth something because they're from an era when the rares/uncommons weren't given gold and silver symbols to make them easier to spot but I'm probably not going to do that trawl through unless there's enough volume on the easy cards that it seems worthwhile. I'll probably finish the rest of the boxes over a few evenings in front of the TV though. On the off chance anyone on here is interested, you can see the collection here: https://lilianamarket.co.uk/tinyo

Something about the whole process of sorting and listing was rather hypnotic though and I ended up basically spending the whole weekend doing it rather than, say doing the gardening. Still, it is useful, at least in theory, so I guess that's not too bad.

Feb. 7th, 2019

relaxing

(no subject)

Read the book group book again this month - 2 in a row! I wasn't impressed by the book at all (The Rift by Nina Allen, very pretentious and pretty dull) but I did feel good about the fact that I finished it and made it to the discussion (where I was not very sparing). Overall, I have really noticed an uptick in my interest in reading new fiction (as opposed to re-reading, not necessarily things published recently. I started on the Age of Innocence the other evening, purely because I have it as an eBook and I've never read it. I've not got far yet, but I'll push on at least a little more before making a decision about whether it's for me. Also, having bought this month's book group book on Kindle, I was snagged by the first page and read 2 or 3 chapters last night, which is a good sign. I am even considering going to back to one or two things that I abandoned despite recommendations from others and seeing if I can get closer to the end now that I have more reading stamina again.

Feb. 3rd, 2019

laden coal creature

(no subject)

I've been writing quite a few entries in my head over this week about the complete and utter mess that is our current political situation, but somehow when I get in front of the posting window I feel like anything I could possibly say about the whole thing would be redundant. The whole thing is really rather depressing and yet, as it gets closer, I can't seem to look away.

I've been re-reading Night Watch and have gone from finding it one of my least favourite Watch books to thinking it's one of the best. I found the main time travel plot something of a distraction from the underlying theme of what it means to live a good/moral in a corrupted society, something which, sadly, feels an increasingly relevant question.

I seem to be in a slightly low mood this afternoon, so I should mention that life in the private sector is still very good and is meaning that I'm regularly surprising myself with my weekend energy levels. I managed to tidy up the library at last this weekend, something that's been on my to-do list for ages and I've just not been able to make any headway with it until now. I've finished the book club book for a second month in a row and I'm managing to get to the gym at least 3 or 4 times every week. It's all going surprisingly well on a micro level, really, it's just the wider world that seems to be sliding into disaster.

Jan. 24th, 2019

kitties - where'd it go?

(no subject)

Went to see John Finnemore in London on Tuesday, which, despite snow making the travel portion a little more complex than needed, was a really lovely evening. The comedy was great (listen to the new series of Souvenir Programme when it is released) and afterwards, we went to a lovely fish restaurant and had fancy fish and chips before heading back to Oxford. A little bit of a late night but worth it, I'd say. I need to get a little bit more confident in asserting when I want to come in/leave early or something like that I think - I guess that'll come once I've been here longer and am feel more comfortable that I'm definitely pulling my weight.

Over the weekend, I had my first go at butchery, which also went really well. I ended up with 4 pheasant breasts, 3 pigeon breasts and a strong feeling of accomplishment. I was surprised that it really was as easy as YouTube made it look and it felt like an intensely practical process, which I found quite satisfying. The moment where it goes from looking like a bird to looking like the sort of meat that I'm used to seeing delivered by the supermarket was quite strange the first time. Now one of the other shooters at work has given me 2 more birds so I'll be doing it again next weekend, which I'm sure will delight the cats - Harry thought the whole thing was amazingly exciting, as you can imagine :)

Jan. 18th, 2019

webdesigner - chez geek

(no subject)

I wrote quite a bit of an entry yesterday in between bits and bobs at work but then I forgot to post it and I guess draft saving is not a thing these days? Maybe I turned it off somewhere or something. Anyway. The most annoying thing about the project I'm working on at the minute is that every time you change the code you have to do a rebuild of the whole solution and then it takes about 3 minutes to spin up on first load which is enough time to be boring but not enough time to do very much. That being said, it does work for things like writing journal entries or, hopefully, writing the Brownies letter I need to do at some point today, I just have to make sure I have enough little things like that.

The developing is still working out well - I was the SQL expert for my colleague yesterday, which was a pretty good feeling and I'm definitely feeling like the ASP.NET skills have de-rusted pretty fast and I'm making actual contributions. I'm also getting into the swing of things at the gym, I think. I've managed to go three times this week and I have a session booked with a personal trainer on Sunday - you get three as part of the sign up package so I figure getting a bit of advice on using machines, etc can't hurt.

The other excitement of this weekend is that I have a new experience coming my way. Having heard that I like game, my boss immediately decided to offer me the results of his weekend shooting, with the result that I now have two pheasants and 2 wood pigeons hanging in my shed! I've never actually dealt with a carcass before, but I'm game to have a go at anything so we'll see how that goes! If nothing else, I expect that it'll fascinate the cats!

Jan. 9th, 2019

charlie, computer cat

(no subject)

Well, I am now officially a developer again! It's kind of weird because it doesn't feel very like work yet - I've got used to seeing getting the chance to tinker around with code as a leisure only activity. I have a very flash set up with lots of monitors and a nice surface laptop with a stylus that I can make notes on and so forth, which I'm quite liking in a weird way. The current project I'm working on has a weird wrinkle where every time you build it, the first load of the website takes about 90 seconds, which is rather irritating, but I am filling with doing things like this post on another screen so isn't too bad. I feel like I'm picking things up again, which is good, although it's hard to tell if I'm doing it faster or slower than they were expecting but overall, I feel pretty positive about how things are working out and it's definitely leaving me with a whole lot more brain space than teaching! In the evenings this week so far, I have been out to the FMs to do some co-op gaming and finished off the book group book in time to head out for book group this evening and still been able to get in and get started in the morning every morning, which feels like a pretty good record!

Speaking of book group, this month's book was Gnomon by Nick Harkaway, which proved to be an interesting read. Contrary to [personal profile] coalescent's skeptical look, I would have managed it over the weekend if I hadn't had a horrible cold and thus spent all of Saturday on the sofa feeling drowsy and bunged up and watching dumb TV. I managed the rest of it over Sunday afternoon and evening and Tuesday evening, although I will admit it is a pretty hefty proposition, so I can see why he was inclined to side-eye me. I ended up enjoying it much more than I was expecting to. I noped out of The Gone-Away World pretty hard, which left me with a definite instinct that Harkaway was a writer I wouldn't enjoy. This meant that for at least the first third of the book, I was reading it feeling rather resistant to and almost resentful of the fact that I was rather impressed by it - I kept waiting for it to tip over into being too pretentious or all-over-the-place. For me, it never quite did, although it came close a couple of times, which put me in the interesting position of having an experience not entirely unlike that of the Inspector. I found myself speculating at about 80% of the way through whether Harkaway had done the same OU philosophy course as me, but looking at his bio, I guess he must have just included a similar module in his Cambridge degree. I might re-read the end as it felt like it didn't quite hang together as tightly as the middle portion of the book, but generally, I really did enjoy it quite a bit. Perhaps I should even try some of his other stuff again?

Dec. 31st, 2018

charlie, computer cat

(no subject)

So, I made it through! Did the final day at school with only a bit of a sniffle as my class sang a goodbye song for me (which was very charming of them, bless them - they'd filked something I didn't recognise but the result was lovely), and had a great time with my new colleagues at their Christmas party. There was an end of year meeting beforehand and I came out of that feeling super positive about the whole thing, which feels like a good sign. I like all the other people I've met so far, which is always a good start, and am looking forward to getting started next year. The one thing which was less good was that in the course of the dinner, we discovered that I am really quite allergic to truffle oil, we think - the odour of several people's plates all at once (including mine - I hadn't noticed it listed as an ingredient in the steak sauce) was so awful that I broke out in a sweat, got light headed and had to go outside for some fresh air, which was a bit of a surprise! Fortunately, that was enough to recover and the restaurant were kind enough to swap the food but that's something I won't be trying in a hurry.

Have been using the between jobs/years gap to get lots of things booked in for next year - my calendar of holidays is already looking pretty full for 2019, assuming that we do make it to Bangkok as well, but it's all super exciting stuff. Who knows what's coming on a more global scale, but at a personal level, I'm feeling pretty up about 2019 :)

Dec. 2nd, 2018

charlie, computer cat

(no subject)

As I get closer and closer to the end of term, I'm finding I've got more and more free brain cycles to do things at the weekend, make plans, feel bouncy and cheerful. It's a very freeing thought. Next week should be fairly straight forward because we are having assessment week, so that takes up a lot of timetable time, and although it does involve quite a bit of marking, it's not too bad because it's all quite specific/straight forward marking with a mark scheme. Then there's just the residential to get through. I'm a little nervous about that - I worry about managing the homesick ones - but I think overall it should be a fairly good week if the weather is ok. So close now though!

Nov. 25th, 2018

sea-mist

(no subject)

Somewhat to my surprise, I have found myself actually doing some swimming again over the past few months and rather enjoying it. I rejoined a gym in October on a limited 3 month deal as the nights began to draw in, the weather got colder and Pokemon Go lost it's appeal. Not really with any sense of anticipation, just a grim sense of resignation that it was something that would have to be got through in my own best interests. I originally intended to use the gym/treadmill on work nights and swim occasionally at the weekends, but as part of that I treated myself to a cheap waterproof MP3 player and I've found to my surprise that with that addition, I'm actually quite enjoying swimming at the moment. I started off listening to my weekly politics podcasts in the water on Saturday mornings but have since discovered that Critical Role also makes an excellent companion for swimming, although it occasionally makes me smile too broadly and take in a little unexpected pool water as a result. The other previous barrier I've had - the fact that long term swimming tended to reach a point where I just smelt of chlorine all the time - hasn't yet re-emerged as an issue, so I'm feeling cautiously positive about the whole thing - enough so that I've been looking up alternative pools for the new year when I won't be passing this one on the way home any more, which was the primary reason for choosing it in the first place.

Nov. 18th, 2018

relaxing

(no subject)

Term crawls on but I was in a better mood most of this week - a couple of good nights of sleep helped, as did some very very soppy cats snuggling up to me. I spent yesterday afternoon going through my book case purging teaching books. Although I have a lot of these, they are mostly either (a) gifts that I never got around to reading, (b) set texts from my qualification or (c) books that other teachers have passed on to me from their categories (a) and (b) when they retired. Lots of them are hopelessly out of date at this point so I ended up with one bag I think Oxfam can sell and 3 that are going straight to the recycling centre. I barely ever read any of them - I never had sufficient energy/desire to and from my position of having decided to cut ties from the profession I look back and wonder if I should have asked myself about my lack of intellectual connection with teaching earlier, although asking that now isn't itself particularly valuable. In fact, trawling through our non fiction shelf reminds me that I very rarely have the energy to read serious non-fiction, although I often find it tempting/fascinating. I rediscovered several history and philosophy texts that I wasn't able to resist buying but have easily manage to resist opening. Maybe I'll start reading some of those in January.

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