Thursday, 19 August 2010

A question.

In your lifetime you've probably - many times - heard (especially if you're English) someone say "There's always someone worse off!"

Have you ever wondered if you're the person they're talking about?

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Crystal Ball time part 2...

It's time for my 2010/11 Season Predictions!

1) Manure to win the league. I feel their young players are starting to bed in more into the side and they never give up.

2) Chelsea, but not by much.

3) Miles behind will be Arsenal - just not good enough in defence to go the whole season and how motivated is Fabregas?

4) Tough one this but I've got a feeling that Spurs can get 4th again even with the Champion's League commitments and no major signings. Sandro (once he arrives in September) should transform our formation to a 4-2-3-1 and this will help us away from home a lot.

5) Man City for 5th (again). Too many new players not used to the Premier League will mean a very slow start and I just don't think they'll recover. Probably win the league the year after though!

6) Very tight this but I've got to go for Liverpool over Everton purely because they have a bigger squad. However if Everton stay injury free and Torres has another six-month 'niggle' then they could swap.

7) 8th is the best Villa can hope for after imploding like that and probably losing Milner and Young.

8) Biggest surprise of the season? My bet is Bolton who I can see finishing in the top half.

9) Biggest disappointment of the season? Stoke, who will be a lot closer to relegation than they'd like to be.

10) The three relegated teams will be Blackpool, West Brom and Wigan - with Wolves, Newcastle and Blackburn not significantly further ahead.

11) Top scorer in the league is likely to be Drogba again. There's not a huge amount of competition!

12) I've got to go for a Premier League player having a drugs ban here. This will happen eventually :)

13) Spurs will get into the group stages of the Champion's League, scrape into the knock-out round and then drop out at the last 16 phase.

14) No English side will win a European trophy, although at least one finalist will be from the Premier League.

15) A team wearing blue shall win the FA Cup. Actually, why beat around the bush - Chelsea shall win the FA Cup.

16) First manager to be sacked is likely to be Mancini if Man City are out of the top four by November, although it's possible that Newcastle will panic if bottom after a couple of months and sack Chris Hughton. I hope they don't because he's ex-Spurs.

17) League Cup is too close to call - too many sides will play the reserves and will drop out. Suffice to say the the semi-finals shouldn't contain more than 2 of the top 4 in the Premier League last season (the new 'Big 4' weenie ;-P )

18) England to win every single Euro 2012 qualifier during this football season.

19) Tom Huddlestone will win his first competitive cap for England during this season.

20) And completely randomly, one of Newcastle, West Brom or Blackpool will pull of a shock victory in the first weekend (seeing as they're playing Manure, Chelsea and away at Wigan that's a really unlikely one!).

Crystal ball time...

With expert timing I've waited until 3 hours before the season kicks off to appraise last year's football predictions and make some for this season.

So without further ado, here's last year's predictions with results:

1) The winners of the Premiership this season will be.....Chelsea. A brave shout, but I think that their squad is old and experienced and so is their coach. Ancelotti will bring the best tactically out of what is still a pretty strong group.

Correct - Chelsea won the double in fact.

2) Second in the league will be.......Manure. Yes they lost Ronaldo and haven't replaced him with anything approaching the same ability, but removing the diving tosser from their side gives them a better formation to suit the other players.

Correct - it was close at the top but a bigger gap back to 3rd.

3) Third will be.......Liverpool. Losing Alonso is a bad blow, and any injury to Torres of Gerrard will be curtains for any title bid.

Incredibly wrong as Liverpool imploded. Gerrard had a terrible season by his standards, and Torres played under half of their games and didn't look at all fit after Christmas. I thought that they'd struggle to challenge but not end up 7th like they did. I guess their squad players really were rubbish.

4) Fourth will be.......Arsenal. Sorry Man City, I just can't see your best side emerge until too late in the season to challenge the gooners. Having said that, if the scummer's injury list get any worse then even holding on to fourth could be problematic.

Wrong, although not by much as only Liverpool's shocking season meant they finished 3rd. They were never really in the title race, but better than all the sides listed below.

5) I can't see beyond Man City, though they'll be closer to 6th than 4th.

Correct, although there wasn't much between 4th and 7th in terms of points.

6) I'm fancying Everton for 6th. Unless Lescott moves, then they might swap with Villa.

Lescott did move, and they did finish below Villa. However they finished in 8th so I'll have to count it as a qualified failure.

7) Villa for 7th. I'd hoped we'd poach Young but that looks a non-starter, and though they've lost Laursen and Barry I don't see them dropping off that much.

Mainly wrong as Villa finished 6th but only by a fraction.

8) Time for realism. I just don't get the feeling that Spurs will push on this season. It's a stabilising year for us. Yes we'll beat the big teams but we'll crumble at times and lose stupid games when the big teams would close it out.

Well we did beat the big teams (Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal all losing at the Lane) and we did lose to the small teams as well (Wolves home and away for example). However we finished 4th :)

I must admit to having tried some reverse psychology here. I predicted them to come 4th for two years and they didn't, so I thought I'd be pessimistic this time. Might have to tip them for relegation this year!

9) The three relegated teams will be Portsmouth, Wigan and Birmingham

One out of three correct. Burnley and Hull were the ones I didn't get. Fail.

10) Top scorer in the league will be Jermaine Defoe (oh come on, allow me some Spurs bias!)

The top scorer was..........Didier Drogba on 29, with Jermaine Defoe coming in 6th with 18. Ah well, at least this one wasn't a serious prediction :)

11) Michael Owen will not score more than 15 league goals

He was 113th top scorer with 3 goals. Result.

12) But Darren Bent will

He was 3rd top scorer with 24. Kerching!

13) First Manager to be sacked will be Martinez of Wigan

Surprisingly not. I can't even remember who was sacked first. Possibly Jewell at Portsmouth after 42 minutes or something.

14) Spurs will be in the top four at Christmas

And they were! :)

15) A Premiership player will test positive for drugs (or will be penalised for not taking a test)

I'm going to keep repeating this one as it has to come true eventually!

16) England will qualify for the World Cup with the best record of any European country

They were one course until the final game, when having already qualified they drew away from home, handing the best record tag to Holland. Close but no cigar.

17) Spain will win the World Cup. They will meet Argentina in the final (after they beat England) and will win 2-1 with a goal from a winger in the 74th minute.

Spain did indeed win the World Cup, the other bits weren't true though. I'll claim a half point.

18) The squad that Capello picks for England at the World Cup finals will include Rooney, Heskey, Defoe and Owen, although Owen won't play a game.

The forwards picked were Rooney, Heskey, Defoe and Crouch. Although Owen was talked about by some quarters he was never in contention for a spot (quite rightly too).

19) Sunderland will finish in the top ten

Sunderland finished 13th, 6 points off 10th. They were up there for a while but had a disastrous February and lost every game. They never recovered from it.

20) Newcastle will not get promoted back to the Premiership this year.

My reasoning here was that their owner would have them up for sale all season, fail to get a buyer or put money in and they'd sell their few good players to make ends meet. However their owner had a change of heart and they didn't need to sell anyone, meaning that they won the league at a canter. I'll claim that as a near-miss ;)

So my final score was 6 and a half - possibly my lowest score. Senility must be playing its part :(

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Buses, that's what I'm like... successfully avoid me for a month and then two posts in two days.

Sometimes I think I spoil you.

Don't hit me.

Anyway, I mentioned that a lot of my time had been spent making a prop for Mrs RS over the last month or so. This isn't something I normally do - I used to do some modelling in my early teens (that's making models rather than having my picture taken obviously) for those little lead-figure 'Warhammer' type games (not that I ever actually played, I just liked making things) - but Mrs RS wanted 'help' with it and I said I'd chip in here and there.

Mrs RS loves three thing in life (if you don't count cake, wine, vodka, ice cream or chicken); Me (goes without saying), Heurelho Gomes (goalkeeper for Spurs) and Bioshock. Bioshock, if you don't already know, was a huge PC/console game a few years back. Bioshock 2 came out last year. Mrs RS most emphatically doesn't love Bioshock 2. As part of her massive love-in of all Bioshock she's going to some sort of comic/game convention on the west coast of the US later in the month and she wanted to go in costume, specifically as a 'Little Sister'.

A Little Sister is a kind of brainwashed ten year-old girl who walks around the undersea city where the game is set collecting 'Adam' (a genetic substance you need to give yourself abilities throughout the game) from corpses using a fuck-off syringe. The Little Sisters are protected by Big Daddies who are the more recognisable face of the game as they're basically a huge 20's diving suit with a massive drill in one hand. Let me find a picture....ah yes, you may recognise it:

Mrs RS is sorting out her dress for the costume and I agreed to 'assist' (i.e. practically do it all) with the syringe. This isn't the first time this has been done at all - this guy did a brilliant one, but then he does it professionally - but I wanted to do it in such a way that;

a) we did it on the cheap using whatever we could find lying around if possible
b) we did it without using anything other than the usual DIY tools I have somewhere
c) the trigger turned the light on and off (not something I'd seen done yet).

This is what we were trying to make:

We knew it was based around a 20's/30's US-style brass petrol pump nozzle, and we promptly missed out on a really cheap one on ebay (they normally go for well over a hundred dollars). Instead we had to settle for a modern replica. This was the only part we really needed to buy.

So to start with, here's our pile of parts:

A petrol pump nozzle, an empty lemsip bottle, some assorted bits of plumbing plastic parts I found in my DIY cupboard, a length of wooden dowel rod, some milliput epoxy putty to sculpt edges and joins and some assorted electrical components I picked up for a couple of quid from Maplins.

It was obvious that our switch would need to go in the neck of the bottle, so to be operated by the trigger handle (inside the nozzle) we'd need to drill a hole through the middle of the top cap. At the same time, I stripped off the labels from the bottle and filed down the thread so that it would fit inside the plumbing part. As you can see here:

The next step was to sort out the wiring as the battery pack would need to sit in the end cap but everything else would be in the bottle. To do this some precision drilling had to be done to get the wires through the nozzle without disturbing the spring inside the nozzle or our trigger mechanism. I also attached some of the dowel rod to the trigger so that when pulled it would project from the top cap - as shown in these two pics:

Unlike other versions I'd seen, I wanted the light to be coming from inside the middle of the bottle. How to do this? Well I figured I'd use a glue pen casing (cut in half) inserted inside the bottle to create an airtight seal, and then have my LED inside that. More progress made in this pic as the bottle cap was broken apart to use in the end cap and switch mount:

So, next up was the light. I mounted the switch at the correct distance from the top cap for the dowel to switch it both on and off (achieved using part of the bottle top, filed down) and fixed it inside the hexagonal plumbing part using superglue. I soldered the LED onto the switch and the battery wires and then sealed the whole shebang into place with milliput:

When the battery pack was manually connected, you can see that the low-voltage, high-brightness LED was the correct choice (and note how I've marked the negative wire either end with black electrical tape. Such a geek.):

I'd pretty much been winging it here - after all I'd not done anything like this for over 20 years, and certainly no soldering for the same amount of time - but I felt the principle had been proved here so I cracked on with the other parts. The end cap I made with a piece of plastic pipe, the end of the bottle lid and some filed down milliput. I also tried out the 'brass' spray paint which looked more like 'whore's gold' to me. The bottle was filled with a mixture of half-set strawberry jelly mixed with the glue from the glue pen. I'd hoped this would make it quite viscous but unless it gets to 2-3C in the conference hall then it'll be quite liquid! The glue pen casing you can see superglued into place in the neck of the bottle:

The bottle was then fixed into place (and the original milliput sanded down to be flush to the plastic:

The next step was to seal it in with a watertight seal, which I did with sculpted milliput (amazing useful stuff as it's heat and water resistant once set):

The battery pack was soldered in and fitted inside the end cap which was glued and milliputted into place. Also, the teat from a baby's bottle was added to the top of the bottle (in the game the little sisters drink from this after harvesting the adam which is rather disgusting):

The needle we made (Mrs RS helped with this bit) from a piece of dowel sealed within half a cork from a wine bottle, then sprayed a dull silver:

The rest of the nozzle needed painting now, so after swaddling the other bits with masking tape I sprayed the nozzle and added parts pseudo-brass and the ring holding the teat in place a dull silver to make it look metallic:

The base-coat done, it now needed weathering which we did with an initial mix of acrylic black paint and turps to give a streaky black mark look:

The needle was then decorated by Mrs RS with dark-red nail varnish to give it proper 'splattered with blood' look (although it's a bit hard to tell from this pic):

The final step was then to give it a couple of 'washes' with enamel black paint mixed with enamel thinner to give it a grimy look, before a layer of matt varnish. Here it is finished, with light on and off:

Just to show that I really did get the trigger to work, here's Mrs RS showing it working (complete with her new mid-Atlantic accent) :) :

You can why it took some time! :)

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Hello, what's all this then?

I've not been here for ages! I also appear to have 476 blog posts in my reader. Christ.

It's been a bit mental recently - memorial day on the other side of the country for my friend Edd who died at the end of June, followed by stag-do, followed by a friend visiting from Australia, followed by family wedding, followed by ill cat (now minus several teeth) - and all that alongside work being a 'challenging environment' right now, my time/motion project that will be complete by the end of the year, building a prop for Mrs RS and then Mrs RS going back to the US yesterday to redo visas and.....

*deep breath*

...whatever, you get the picture. In fact, you'll get several :)

First off, the eddshrinker memorial cup which we organized last month. I knew Edd from football, specifically watching Spurs. We were both members of a closed forum and conversed on it just about every day for a couple of years, as well as meeting up regularly at actual games. He was a lovely guy - not just World Sudoku Champion (seriously) - but someone whom you met once and it felt like you'd known him all your life. There were 24 people from the forum at his funeral and we thought we'd organise a football match in his memory (as well as an opportunity to all get together and raise a glass in his direction).

I designed and got the t-shirts printed and someone else did the flag for the european away games we'll be doing this season. Here's some of us pre-match (I'm on the left in goalie gloves as I'd stupidly agreed to go in goal!):

I've blurred faces to preserve anonymity, but frankly it looks a bit creepy like that. Whoops.

And I'm not fat, thank you for thinking it though.

The game and the day were good fun - got sunburnt to fuck as the weather forecast said rain not blazing sunshine - although we (the whites) lost in the end. We were 4-0 down at half time as the blacks tore us apart and were using deeply unsporting tactics like 'passing', 'shooting' and 'scoring'. I kept the score down quite well as it could have been ten.

In the second half I got bored at the guys playing up front for us never passing and never scoring so I took on half their team from my own goal line and scored the best goal I'll probably ever score :)

Don't believe me? Here it is in blurry technicolour! Um, it might take a while to load it seems. Totally worth it.

Class is permanent *dons sunglasses*

The pile-on at the end nearly cracked a rib though :)

Now excuse me, I have some of your posts to read!