30 May

May!!

I have been ill most of May. Just as I was celebrating my birthday and Ann’s new amateur career as a thespian, I got a virus that was to my mind a proper ‘flu and that took 2 weeks out, as well as stopping me going to chair a big conference I had helped organise in Brussels 🙁

Then I got myself together well enough to go and do my duty at a project event in Cyprus and just as I was about to go back I got a cold that has progressively attacked my chest until now I have a chest infection and am on antibiotics.

It’s true to say that I have also tried to keep up with family commitments and visits, and that probably hasn’t helped my immune system in fighting the bugs buy hey ho, you can’t just give in, can you?

So what did I manage to do? Well I had 3 lovely days in Cyprus before the 2nd bug got me. I got to run a starter game of D&D for a family friend, their son and my grandson, at the end which the virus decided to take away my voice for 4-5 days.. Olly, Amy and Mike came and stayed. We played Obama Llama and Machi Koro. Steve and Tree came and we drank beer.

Ann as Mrs Northrop in "When We Are Married"

Ann as Mrs Northrop in “When We Are Married”

We saw Matt in his home in Cambridge and caught up with him and Alaa and met his chums at his place of work, a lovely Italian café.

But now, all I want to do is take my antibiotics, ease back into mainstream work, and REST..

 

15 Mar

Update

Ann poorly Monday. Not much achieved. I had terrible back, neck and head pains.

Tuesday I had a CILT Railfreight Forum workshop which we hosted at the University. Very pleased with it, and great to see the group meeting outside of London. Scotland next, I believe! Enjoyable group, old friends and new faces. Head and neck pains very bad, resorted to codeine.

Wednesday, started to get back into groove but needed to pop to hospital, and then had Hedley’s round to look at guttering to consider replacing it all. Had a good chat with Bruce C re urban logistics.

Not much progress made.

 

05 Sep

We all have curly tails now..

Ah well.. it was bound to happen and yet for me at the least convenient time. I got the ‘swine flu’ or the H1N1 virus which is a type of swine influenza mixed with some avian and human ancestry. I knew this was coming, and at first I kinda worried that this would be another ‘Spanish flu’ that killed 20-100 million worldwide 1918-19. But there is little point in worrying and I did think that the years of preparation for avian flu would have made the WHO and the major governments as best placed as possible to interdict it. Some people sadly died, but despite the alarmist headlines it started to look as though it might be quite mild in reality, unless you had underlying health issues. I watched a few programmes on BBC Four, started to understand the subject, realised the ‘second wave’ would be the testing outbreak and decided to not fret.

Well my son Matt and his friends Ben and Alaa and Louis and others all went to Leedfest this year, and from the accounts coming in it sounds like the ‘second wave’ has gone right through the festivalgoers. They’ve all got it. I saw Matt on Monday and Tuesday but still felt fine when I boarded the train to London to catch the Eurostar to Brussels for some very important meetings. I started to feel ‘off’ on that first train and I wish I’d had the gumption to turn back, but these are very important meetings that dictate if I have an income for years to come so I pressed on. On the Eurostar I started to have very ‘viral’ symptoms.. headache, hot breath, some limb ache.

By that night I was laid pretty low, fever, headache, aching limbs. My colleague Frank was going to the meeting on Thursday so after having spent a bad night I couldn’t make the meeting, hoping to regroup for ‘my’ meeting Friday. I started to make plans, asking good colleagues from Banverket to chair if I was missing and using the lulls when I felt normal to ensure that all documentation was printed by our hosts at UNIFE. Another terrible delirious night. But I woke feeling a little better and decided to have a light breakfast (I had avoided food since Matt had consistently been unable to hold down food) and make the very short walk to the UNIFE offices. What a mistake.

I spent the meeting shaking, shivering, barely able to concentrate, and eventually went to the loo and upchucked everything that I had eaten. It was game over and rather than catching the train home which was my plan, I could do nothing but take a taxi to the hotel and book myself back in for what turned out to be the worst night of all. Eventually the fever broke at about 3am and today, Saturday, I am not well at all, but better than I was.

So.. how is the dreaded ‘swine flu’ of 2009 (and I bet 2010)? Well it’s not mild, it’s a full on bastard of an influenza that knocks you up pretty bad. It cripples your weak spots, which for me is usually headaches, for Matt it’s his upset stomach, and I’d want to keep a very close eye on it if you had an underlying respiratory illness, like any flu. It may not be the killer it was headlined as, and even now we don’t know that for sure, but you don’t want it and when they have that vaccine I’d take it if it was offered (subject to your belief system regarding vaccines). In the UK you can also get access to anti-virals which I couldn’t take since I was umpteen hundred miles away from them, but consider them too. Add it into the mix in the winter months with seasonal flu and it’s gonna cause a lot of disruption, and everything the medical people can do to limit it will be well worthwhile. UK health advice is here. US health advice here. EU overview of all Member States here.

As for me.. I’m stuck in a hotel room in Brussels too ill to leave the room, not sure if I will be up to travelling tomorrow, and wishing I was home. My colleagues coped, I should have stayed at home, and my final advice is: “If you feel flu coming on.. go back to bed.. take paracetomol.. and hope it’s not too bad.”

But we do all have cute curly tails now..

Tom

26 Apr

Facebook is shit, o2 arena and London was fun, had a bad week

IMHO Facebook is pointless shit full of viral crap that promises something and delivers nothing. Avoid. I have just deactivated my Facebook account. I can’t delete it and my friends can’t see that I am inactive (interesting twist eh?) but at least I never will get anything from that cesspool of tat again. [Do I sound cross?]

I have had some good productive chats about a route to market for Gwenthia. My chief wish is the get books into FLGS and get some people enjoying all the hard work of the Design Mechanism. I suspect that the world has legs but I think we also have to conclude that it might be a one-shot wonder, so hard choices need to be made on what to leave in or take out.

I am 75% through laying out the Exodus Matrix as our first ‘all in one’ playable scenario using just the core RuneQuest book. I am about 50% thorugh writing a classic ‘underground’ adventure in the same style. I want to finish them before Continuum, have them printed and sold to create some buzz, and then put them on rpgnow as pdfs.

Work is busy so I have only been able to feed back on the latest draft of Wordplay and not start to tackle the Secret Agent Man theme.

We saw Cirque de Soleil at the o2 arena (formerly the Millenium Dome) last Saturday. Great venue, always knew London could make good use of it. Show was okay but maybe not as ‘groundbreaking’ as all that. Was basically a melange of french graphic novels, pink floyd and a lot of weed. IMHO of course.

My steroid dose went down last week and 7 days later, this Tuesday, I crashed. Could bearly get out of bed I was so tired and unfocused. Looks like below 20mg a day I don’t work. 🙁 I changed my dose back and was fine by Friday.

I now have shedloads of work to catch up on.

Damn.

BTW.. my tests have all been deleted.. Jane knows what I mean.

27 Mar

Various

I am watching ‘Tales of Earthsea‘, the latest Studio Ghibli film based on some part of the Ursula K LeGuin books. I loved the books, they opened the doors to non-Tolkien fantasy in a much better way than Moorcock. Sad to say, 60 minutes in and I suspect this as duff a film as the IMDB reviews suggest and LeGuin hints herself on her webpages. It wasn’t made by Hayao Miyazaki and isn’t patch on other masterpieces such as Nausicaa, Laputa or Kiki’s Delivery Service. Very sad.

Over the last week I have realised that there is no way I can afford to heat my greenhouse, save to stop the frost. I have moved all the seedlings and propagation indoors. I have created and planted a bulb area in my borders, and realised that my problem is that we have no topsoil. Since I am building my raised beds soon and they will need topsoil, I shall order extra and layer it onto the back beds. I have fertilised my raspberries, planted rhubarb plants, popped in a blueberry and potted on my tomatoes and fuschias. I’ll need to get my veg. bed sorted soon so I can plant out cabbages and lettuces in a fortnight or so.

I have been working all week, and although my boss is very keen that I do not travel too far, I think I need to get out and start my wider job soon.

Gaming wise there is no sign of the promised Traveller game so I think I may run some Gwenthia on Tuesdays now we have a full ruleset to playtest. I have a planned Talislanta game next Thursday with my son and his friends, I shall run Scent of the Beast. I have found the pretty rare Sub-Men Rising campaign by robin-d-laws. Maybe I’ll get to run it all! I am implementing the more restricted magic rules from Codex Magicus to throttle back magic a little and give a reason to wizards to track down spells and artefacts. It looks like darransims may run some HeroQuest Tekumel at Continuum and that would be awesome.. I hope he knows how popular it will be..

19 Mar

Diagnosis

Well I do have a diagnosis although, as with many rare and odd medical cases, it is not a 100% nailed-down with certainty. I have (and appear to still have) neurosarcoidosis.

Neurosarcoidosis (sometimes shortened to neurosarcoid) refers to sarcoidosis, a condition of unknown cause featuring granulomas in various tissues, involving the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). It can have many manifestations, but abnormalities of the cranial nerves (a group of twelve nerves supplying the head and neck area) are the most common. It may develop acutely, subacutely, and chronically. Approximately 5-10% of people with sarcoidosis of other organs (e.g. lung) develop central nervous system involvement. Only 1% of people with sarcoidosis will have neurosarcoidosis alone without involvement of any other organs. Diagnosis can be difficult, with no test apart from biopsy being completely reliable. Treatment is with immunosuppression.[1] The first case of sarcoidosis involving the nervous system was reported in 1948.[2] – Wikipedia, All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.

It seems that reducing the steroid dose to 10mg a day has allowed various symptoms to return, my eyes, or more accurately the muscle around my eyes, don’t work properly and ache all day. On the higher dose they worked fine until 4-5pm. My face has also started to ‘freeze’ or ‘spasm’ intermittently.

So, we are increasing the dose back to 20mg a day for 2 weeks, 15mg for 2 weeks, 10mg a day for 2 weeks and some more MRI scans of my brain and spine in the meantime.

02 Mar

Bloody Gales

HilaryBloody gales, hammering on the roof. Can’t sleep. When there was an earthquake I assumed it was the wind ripping off the the roof.. again. We have such a nice house but we live in such a valley of wind..

I am always slowly scanning, editing and cataloguing old pictures. The latest are a set from University and the NODDSOC 25 hour roleplaying events. Some nice nostalgia if you were there or know the people..

I have also posted an idea for sorting out WebDAV on Ubuntu Brainstorm. If you have the time please vote for it..

My steroid dose reduced again yesterday. I have been having weird little facial muscle “freezes” all week.. and an appointment with my consultant on the 19th March.

Looks like Hilary has had it. Obama looks to be the winner in the Democrat primary. Mind you I have nothing against Hilary except she has a discomforting stiffness, but I think women have a hard time balancing the sexism and expectations in political life, it’s a tricky one.

I am running a Talislanta game on the 9th March so I need to focus on that fully and deliver a great gaming experience. I hope people are going to come.. it’s gone a little quiet.

Tom

21 Feb

Soft Rime

We’ve been having freezing fog and “soft rime‘ which is kind of like snow but it isn’t.. It is -7 degrees Celcius the last few mornings.

From Rime

I feel crap today.. I felt like a truck had run me over Monday, great Tuesday and the truck has been back today. Matt has a bad cold and we just watched Resident Evil: Extinction, which was a great blast. Nowt original but rock’n’roll fun as usual..

Now, time to write my rpg tribute trilogy of scenarios..

Tom

16 Feb

Doing stuff but eyes tired

I am getting quite a lot done, we had a nice evening with our friends the Nerurkars on Wednesday night. Then on Thursday I went into the Hallamshire hospital and had a MRI scan of my lumbar and lower back region to investigate the lumbar radiculopathy I seem to have.. I took a Pink Floyd album and chilled in the tube! Friday I went and helped Helena setup her new Servage account, emails, ftp server, and the beginnings of their various family websites, especially her son Max’s skating website.. that boy does great sk8r stuff and (IMHO) great photos.. I then cut back the dead ornamental grasses in the garden and planted some more daffodils alongside the snowdrop and bluebells in my new border. My greenhouse arrives next Friday and I am starting to get into this gardening lark big time. BTW if you want some very cheap snowdrops to plant into a border or lawn.. there’s an offer at T&M..

14 Feb

Update, Leopards and Nonsense

I go to a lower dose of steroids today. The last reduction has made me very aware that my face isn’t fixed.. closing my eyes and forming words has become more difficult all week. However I am basically sound and will start work again on the 18th. Like my other interests I shall focus on certain key tasks since I have been pleased to say that my team have shown that they can operate well on their own and I can stop micro managing and let them fly.. every cloud has a silver lining. My eyes get tired quickly so I’ll have to go easy.. I also suspect that glasses may be an accessory I shall enjoy losing.. soon.

Rich Crawley came to see me Tuesday and we had a great old chinwag. He’s just upgraded his Mac to the new Mac OS X Leopard and told me all about the new features such as the new “Cover Flow” Finder option and the very cool “TimeMachine” backup system. All sounds elegant and stylish and (note this Microsoft) useful. The combination of ergonomics and elegance in Apple products is why, however much I love Linux, I will always have a Mac somewhere..

Anyhow, apart from the usual Government bollocks and the usual media bollocks about the death of DAB, I have no more update for today.. and shall wend my way to a nice cup of tea..