Tuesday, December 27, 2011

MONEY MONEY MONEY MONEY


As I find myself writing this some two days before Christmas I almost have to snigger to myself about the distinct lack of money I now have despite only being paid yesterday. I can blame no one but myself for taking this job which meant that I actually lost money when compared to my previous unemployed situation. So far I have paid off the following:

-      -    Over limit on my credit card (Eeeep!)
-      -    Missed payments on my landline
-      -    Electricity for the next two week (metered)

That bit of financial mismanagement has left me with the following still to deal with:
-         - Council tax
-          - Two months’ rent (thankfully with some housing benefit against it)
-          - Broadband missed direct debits

Ah the financial independence that comes along with being employed NOT. In reality I am much worse off than when I was claiming job seekers allowance and getting most of my rent paid by housing benefit. The search for work will begin continue on with a passion in January (right after this evil cold and raw nose go bye bye) but this time I will be going into that search a little wiser and less desperate with real experience of what it means to be on the other side of things. There will be some restrictions in place, including but not limited to the following:

·         The role must be 30hrs a week or more
·        
If there is significant commuting involved then special attention must be made to the cost of that travel against the wages

Now you might look at the above and think those are the only two restrictions and should not cut down on opportunities but in practice they can and do. For instance the 30hrs, first it is the minimum requirement to apply for tax credits to boost your income to a level where you might actually get some piece of mind and not worry about the debt collectors beating down your door. The second reason is that 30 hours should mean that the loss of housing benefit will be covered by the new wages that are now being brought in.

The commuting point is an important one because you would be surprised by how a job with seemingly decent pay will actually cost you more money once you start doing the math (illustrated below) plus there is a nasty 5.9% rise in the cost of train fares incoming in the near year which won’t help the situation.
Council Tax + Full Rent + Monthly Travel Costs
You will find that it often matches or sometimes overtakes the amount of money you would earn a year BEFORE costs like:
o   Food
o   Electricity
o   Landline (broadband requirement)
o   Broadband
o   Mobile phone
Once you factor in those you will find yourself looking closer to home which if you live in an area like mine (one of the most deprived in the county) you may find that to be a significant problem

Monday, December 12, 2011

World of Warcraft - ENFORCED VACATION



So 4.3 finally dropped and I'm left out in the cold due to financial difficulties. Totally sucks but I have been spending some time looking at the usual information and gold making sites finding out information. Of course a lot of information was available pre-patch day but such things are often subject to change like prices and what not. Also I was looking forward to finishing up the levelling process on my new Death Knight.

If you guys didn't know I had decided to try moving from my current realm to a new one Auchindoun EU. My current realm which has never been the highest quality but it has suffered badly since the Wrath hangover which resulted in a lot of the hardcore raid guilds transferring away and everything just going to hell in a hand basket. Add to that all the friends I had made since starting WoW have all gone off to different servers or left World of Warcraft altogether.

Unfortunately I won't be getting back to WoW until Christmas Eve at the earliest but then it will be an all out race to get to 85 and then establish myself on the new realm hopefully doing things like sorting out my own guild bank and generally starting to show my goblin side and amass some gold, I managed 30k on my old realm but that was after a lot of alts allowing access to all professions so I don't know what sort of goal I should set for say the beginning of February but you might see that if a new post later in if I remember. The next gold goal though is the 4.5k or whatever it is for 310% speed on my DK.

How has your Patch 4.3 been?  Is it the beginning of the end or just a taster of awesomeness to come. Comments welcome.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

TV & FILM - Now For Something A Little Different

As a kid who didn't love martial arts films? I know I did back in Antigua a highlight was heading into town to catch a martial arts double feature in the afternoon showing, usually featuring Jet Li and his awesome bicycle kick. Recently as I head to the end of my job and also because it is that time of year again Winter so I go out even less than usual and American TV is slowing down until February/March I decided to do some research (i.e. Googling) to find some inspiration on things to watch in my down time.

Yes I am aware I probably watch too much TV but I also like to ensure I sit down either with a book or audiobook for my commuting or when I head to bed so I am not just always vegging out in front of the monitor.Back on subject now I looked up some martial arts films that I might want to catch up on and also had a look around for an Asian TV show that might be worth picking up. I for one have no problem watching 3-4 episodes of a good show a day if it is in fact worth watching. I came up with Legend of the Fist, a martial arts film and Athena a South Korean Action show. On further looking into Athena it seems to be a sequel to an earlier show so I decided to opt for that instead the name of that show being Iris.

LEGEND OF THE FIST



A solid martial arts film starring Donnie Yen. I didn't really know who he was until I looked him up quite an impressive CV though very reminiscent of Jet Li I guess he is in the following generation of Martial Arts Action Stars. The 20s setting with all its glamour is presenting well here and very entertaining. Even on the other side of the elaborate and excellent action scene set pieces the story moves along well and keeps you entertained. I can definitely recommend this film to fans of high kicking and the actual martial art scenes are nearly all tight and extremely well choreographed.

IRIS (Korean TV)



The most expensive Korean made TV show of the time and a huge hit there and in Japan, Iris is the story of two friends from the Korean Army recruited into a clandestine government agency. I've only caught the first episode but it has me pretty much sold. You could compare it to shows like 24 but the plot is different focusing more on the main characters than say a terrorist threat. As long as you don't mind subtitles if you like spy stuff then give it a try.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

General Entertainment Roundup

This time of the year from around the middle of November until February or even later in some cases when US TV in particular goes into a form of recess. The mid-season break as they call it when all the shows close down for winter, all the fun stuff Vampire Diaries, Nikita, Secret Circle (pretty meh), Chuck and Glee (though it does have a lot of other breaks). I am taking this time to discuss what has really impressed me as now I have time as there isn't half a dozen TV shows queued up for me to check out and absorb. The stand out show which I ended up coming pretty late to is what I will be talking about first then to a manga and then maybe squeeze in a film or two.


The break out hit so far it seems. First heard about it properly from Cash Peters but was hearing things here and there. It is a re-imagining of the Count of Monte Cristo with a young damaged girl taking over the lead. Just a great and gripping show that at first you might think is a little dry but give it time it will grow on you.


Ichigo 100% (You might know it as Strawberry 100 or 100%) is the story of a high schooler with both hopeless luck with women and an uncanny knack to attract the interests of them. The manga follows his hilarious misadventures and the trouble he gets into along with introducing a host of characters that are his friends and some his would be lovers. It is a frustrating read though I will warn you as time after time you think to yourself why is this guy that stupid or why can he not just come out and say he likes one girl or another but I find solace in the other stories within the manga such as the growth of the female love interests or just the school based stuff. I would recommend it as a good read, beware it has over 100 issues to get through until the end.


It has been maybe a couple of years since I have watched any Bollywood films I tried to get back into them but I generally tend to look around for the more action ones. So when one came around about a superhero I figured it would be worth a watch. Ra One is an interesting premise it is a superhero movie but in the same way that say Hancock  is a superhero film, with a lot of comedy thrown in.

I liked it sure the comedy was a bit over the top but you learn to accept that with Bollywood films. The actresses as always are stunningly beautiful I really liked Sara I think it was one of the fellow programmers that worked on the Ra One game but unfortunately she did not make it into the second half of the film when the location changes.

Overall Ra One is a good film but not the total package that films like Dhoom 2 or Don the remake were in my view.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

So this is me

So it has been awhile indeed since I've posted which is a shame but things have been getting on top of me. It appears my days as a member of the employed are numbered, it sucks but it was to be expected when taking over a maternity cover role and the positives are that I've been doing well in my current role and should get a nice reference plus being in regular employment over the past few months definitely pumps up the CV.

Still on the jobs front things are a bit thin on the ground. Add to that most of the jobs I'm looking at require 4-5 hours of commuting and things look even more bleak. I mean this is crazy I live in the UK not the back of beyond it should be reasonable to at least see job roles at my level that could actually cover the cost of living in a fairly deprived town in the county but the prices for rent and council tax make that all but impossible.

I hate to sit here and write an endless procession of depression observations on living here but sometimes it just gets to me. If it isn't the crazy and/or drunk people having the weekly argument in the parking lot downstairs or the random fire engine appearance to the apartment complex that happens maybe every 6 weeks or so it is the sketchy as hell people greeting me on my way in and out asking if I can get them drugs.

Enough with the negativity.

Been writing which was nice not a lot but I will be happy with writing little bits and often if at all possible especially with the possibility of having a whole lot more free time soon. I shouldn't leave trying to write fresh stories until NANOWRIMO (National Novel Writing Month) because something is always going to get in the way, this time it was serious illness. Although I probably won't be hitting the 50,000 mark I hope that I can get at least the beginnings of a story that might be compelling enough for me to go back to in the future.

Hmm the social front.

On the social front there is mostly tumble weeds and sand blowing through a featureless landscape. There is nothing going on in that direction so I find myself having to funnel energy into other endeavours like job applications, blogging on this and my other sites and just keeping up with existing friends and contacts. Oh and trying to stay sane that requires a decent amount of work too.

So that is enough from me we will close with some books.

I recently read Soul Screamers 2 which was a bit of a disappointment after the great start of the first novel and the truly scary prequel. This one just went downhill for me with a lot of things that could have explained away or dealt with far easier than the hoops the characters jump through to keep the plot moving forward.

At the moment I'm reading Last Breath by Rachel Caine which is a great addition to Morganville Vampires series.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Things happening this month

Son of Neptune by Rick Riordan

Waiting for this one for ages the first book in the new Heroes of Olympus was so good and a welcome beginning to the sequel of one of the best YA series around. The book is told in the POV style and the first at least focused on the three main characters which I think is likely to be the case in this book. I preferred the one POV of Percy Jackson in the first series but the multiple POVs doesn’t suck. I’ll leave the review until I actually get my hands on the book, currently I am listening to Heat Rises but I suspect I’ll get to Son of Neptune later this month. I am fairly happy though I am going to like what I read especially after the first book of the new series.

Last Breath by Rachel Caine
This one comes out on the 1st of November and it is another on my big ones to watch. The Morganville Vampire series is one of the good ones it is fast paced funny and with some great dialogue. There have an interesting dynamic played between the vampires and humans in this strange experiment of Morganville.

So those are two awesome book series that you might want to check out.

In other news at the moment I am checking around for new job opportunities but times are hard for the world over let alone my locality. Sometimes it does come across as a bit desperate although that whole think of those worse off than you doesn’t work for me. That is life there will always be those worse off and those better off so I can’t see the point in comparing yourself to them. If you want to help those worse off or aspire to be better off that is understandable but this constant idea of comparing oneself with poor people in Africa or whatever isn’t helpful.

Sorry this was a rather rambling post.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

TV, Books - Rooks and Castles

Rooks and Castles

So I'm a fan of Castle, no not just of Nathan Fillion in fact I hadn't caught Firefly until after watching the first season of Castle. I will freely admit he is a charismatic guy and the character of Richard Castle is enigmatic and totally that guy who you wished was your friend. For those who don't know Castle is the show about an eccentric and successful writer Richard Castle who uses his friendship with the Mayor to get a ride along with an elite NYC Detective Squad on which he is basing his new lead character.

The name of that character is Nikki Heat and hence queue up book titles with a heat theme. The crazy thing is that the novels by Richard Castle are available to us the viewers of Castle in a genius bit of cross marketing by ABC, also there are the graphic novels featuring Derrick Storm on the horizon by the sound of it.

UPDATE: As I've been slacking with my blogging I managed to catch a second Castle episode even though this was started after the first. This was a great episode really getting back to the 1st season vibe before we got serious and the all the will-they-won't-they stuff went a bit over board. Interesting that they went for the Marvel comics as an inspiration though given it is ABC which is a part of Disney which owns DC now.

I have also listened to the first Nikki Heat book by Richard Castle, and I have to say I loved it. I've seen some bad reviews of it but I feel that if you enjoy Castle and can stand reading as an enjoyable activity then go for it.

Monday, September 12, 2011

TV - US Shows INCOMING!!!

This week including Vampire Diaries and the new show Secret Circle (both based on books written by LJ Smith). Also Eureka is back with an episode as is Alphas (congrats to them on getting a second season). As a keen US show watcher I am happy to be getting back into the main season of TV. I'll give my thoughts on the new and returning shows as I get to check them out.

Just watched the True Blood Finale (SPOILERS SO BEWARE)

I expected so much more to be honest I prefer the previous week's episode far more. There were the cutesy moments between Jason and Jessica and the totally hot Jessica moment which was definitely an interesting form of fan service. I was bored of Marnie before and I was certainly bored watching it this episode. The Terry stuff might be interesting or it might be a pile of crap waiting to stink up next season, also that whole Andy and the Faerie thing is going to annoy me if I think about it.

Last time I spent so much time considering what the new season of True Blood will be like, this time I don't think I am going to expend anywhere near the same energy. Is Jessica still in it? Check. Well then I'm pretty good to go there will be Sookie going back and forth over her two undead love interests and Bill being all pensive and brooding though I will give it to them that this season they decided to give Bill his balls back.

So in the end this season of True Blood was like many shows I liked parts of it and didn't like the others but I definitely want to see it around next year and the year after that the show has sucked me in.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS - Some Releases this year

So we have already had some good releases this year with a new Sookie Stackhouse Novel and the much anticipated "A Dance with Dragons". However there are still more great books on the horizon this year and I will discuss a couple of them.

BLOODLINES by Richelle Mead



Rose Hathaway and the Vampire Academy series are a pretty big deal. This is the first spinoff from this series and it is being released later this month. I really enjoyed the Vampire Academy series all about a secret world of vampires, their protectors and their enemies. We learn about their schools were they train their young nobles and the half vampire protectors who will lay their life down to protect them.

Yes the series is a little girly perhaps but there is more than enough action to keep even the most opposed to chick lit happy, as well as that the politics and the lore of learning about the hidden vampire world.

I am especially looking forward to Bloodlines because although I really loved Vampire Academy I really didn't like Rose Hathaway the main character of the series but thankfully the people around her were so well imagined it was easy to stay in the series for their sake. Now I have a book were those characters are the main ones and Rose might appear in a few scenes so I'm more than happy.

SON OF NEPTUNE by Rick Riordan



Remember Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief probably one of the first YA fantasy books to follow on the heels of the popularity of Harry Potter in getting a big screen adaption. Things have gone a bit quiet on the movie releases front since then but the Percy Jackson series is a strong series as one of the few popular YA book series I have tracked down that is targeted primarily at boys.

This book will be released in October and I can't wait.

So these are two of the books I am looking forward to. Maybe next time I might discuss a couple more.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


The London Riots