Time’s a funny thing

So .. I know this blog isn’t as widely read as I would like (still working on that) but I know the last post I published was read by quite a few peeps from a certain audience – close friends etc, mainly because it was about my new daughter.

So this is 6 months on from the birth of my daughter and I’ve come to another realisation. This is going to really change science and physics as we know it so strap in.

I reckon that, based on my experience of the last 6 months, that time passes differently when you’ve got a small child.

Revolutionary I know.

For example, tasks that you think wouldn’t take very long seem to take ages and activities or noises, games etc that you feel you’ve been doing/playing for an hour have only lasted 3 minutes. Furthermore time passes differently even when you aren’t doing these things – I’m woken up by my daughter (over Christmas, so not at work), change of nappy, breakfast, get her dressed, play with her toys .. I suddenly realise its nearly time for her mid-morning nap and I’m not even dressed, then she falls asleep, wakes up, its time for her lunch and ours and then by the time the washing up is done and she’s played a bit, then its time for another nap, then she wakes and its tea time, and its bath and then bed and all of a sudden, its half 7!

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Now for those readers without children I’m sure this won’t mean anything and for those      experienced parents they may be saying to themselves, “well yes, that’s what happens”, but for me, especially over Christmas,  this revelation about the passage of time was news to me (suppose it would be considering the definition of revelation ..)

But another thought struck me at the same time as this one about time. What I also realised is that, even though it takes ages to do bottles, prep and wash and sterilise and ages doing nappies and stuffing them and sorting out clothes and tidying away toys and cleaning up etc etc etc, absolutely none of that matters to me – at all. The passage of time in this way does not bother me at all – because it is time for and with my daughter and even though I get tired playing peekaboo for what feels like 4 hours and actually has only been 4 minutes, none of that matters.

 

None of that matters to me in anyway because I’m lucky enough to be spending time with my daughter and so even though all the things feel like they take ages – I really don’t care one bit.

A new post for a new phase

So I haven’t posted anything online on here for a while (in fact since March last year). One of the reasons for that was time, everyday life (and I got married too!) and work commitments, but also finding things to write about.

I had a period when I was unsure what I could or should write about because of work and how some things might look to outside audiences. It was also pointed out to me that posting  online either on a blog or on Twitter can provide content which could damage oneself professionally at some point in the future. Now I’m happy to stand by everything I write or say and argue with rational people but sometimes even that means I think twice about posting.

So, what to blog about?

I hope that from time to time I will still post about things that exercise me – mainly politics-related or current affairs, although I do post on Twitter alot so I’m covered a bit (as much as I can be in 140 characters). But right now I would like to write a little about a new phase of my life – as of 25 June this year, I am a dad.

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My daughter (about 1hr old)

So this is my daughter. She arrived early and a bit ‘not according to plan’, but she is healthy and beautiful (although admittedly I’m biased).

Some of the details of Lily’s arrival are personal but sufficed to say she was delivered by emergency Caesarean section instead of how we thought she would be. And that was a scary experience for me, for any new dad I would have thought. One minute you are talking to the mother of your soon-to-be baby and a few seconds later there are alarms and someone is telling you to get changed into a pair of scrubs.

But she arrived and even though it is over done, I’ll say it here – I was smitten. Instantly. The only simple way to say it, is that the second I held this pink, noisy, slightly messy bundle in my arms I knew that I (turn away here if you want to avoid the soppiness) was in love and there was nothing that I wouldn’t do for her for the rest of my life. Nothing would be too small or trivial. And even though she was pretty out of it from the various drugs she was on at the time, I felt closer and more connected to my wife than ever before.

I could easily go on and on about the huge rollercoaster that the last four weeks have been (two separate emergency trips to hospital, both resulting in 5 day stays – but I might touch on that at some other point), but I am rapidly learning that sleep is now a high value commodity so I will pause for now.

Hopefully when time permits I’ll write more here about my new daughter and this brand new adventure I and the missus have got ourselves into.

And maybe touch on some politics every now and again.

the question of greatness

in a departure from some of the things i have written on here previously i wanted to think about gaming for a while.

now i’ve always been a bit of a gamer, right back to the SEGA master system and duck hunt, through to the SNES and super mario brothers, to the N64, goldeneye and zelda: ocarina of time, to the PS2 and metal gear solid and currently an xbox 360 and fallout3, mass effect 2 etc. and when i recently saw the television advert for the re-release of zelda: ocarina of time on the DS, i was genuinely excited and was trying to work out a way of playing that great game again (managed to borrow a game cube copy and go at it on the wii – brilliant), and it got me thinking about great games – what makes a great computer game?

clearly there are lots of possible answers to this, but i was moved out think of a few:

  1. i dont think its the graphics. clearly that helps and playing games now on the xbox 360, some of the cinematics and gameplays are stunning – some of the detailing is beautiful and it can help you to enjoy the game, but having played a fair share of games that have not been as visually stunning (usually as i have been hampered by technology), i can say that graphics are not essential, but they do help. look at the fantastic example of fallout 2 (no not the one on the xbox 360), but the one on the PC which came out in 1998 developed by black isle. by 2011 standards the graphics are relatively shocking, but the game play and PLAYABILITY is unbelievable.
  2. a gripping story helps as well. it has to be compelling, not neccesarily believable but it has to grab you – just as any good novel / fiction / fantasy story would in traditional book form. but furthermore the characters you are playing must be able to fit into that story and you must be able as those characters to effect changes to the story as you go along – again the fallout series is fantastic here as is the mass effect story. and i would humbly suggest that the final fantasy series has set the bar in terms of story line and complex character dramas – although i do think that the linear nature of some of the games has limited their greatness.
  3. the shape of the game is another contributing factor – is it strictly linear – do you have to go there, do that, kill that character or interact and then do the next thing? or can you wander the Capitol Wastelands and go wherever you want, moving the storyline on as you see fit? however, again, this is not a strict science. take for example the best game ever released for N64 and never equalled despite the names on other platforms – goldeneye. even watching a short video of this game is exciting. now this is a different kind of game – straight forward shoot-em-up, FPS, with a limited story line and is incredibly linear – you literally just go through the levels (although the different difficulties do add complexity) and the graphics (due to the technology – early release on N64 etc) are not great – but the game as a whole is brilliant – playability, replayability, quick to pick up, challenging, excellent multiplayer – everything that you could want.

now i’m still catching up on my modern games – mass effect 2 and fallout 3 i think will eventually rate up there as great games, but in the mean time i think it is fair to say that as with other parts of life, greatness really does come down to an x factor.

what? a life without books?

just a very quick, short one really. this story came to my attention today about how three in 10 children in the UK own no books and well, to be honest it made me quite sad and downheartened. as a person who was brought up on books and had every opportunity to read and still reads a lot and reads as part of my work life i could not imagine a life, let alone a childhood without any books.

“The survey of 18,141 young people found that four in 10 boys did not own any books, compared to three in 10 girls. Children who did not own books were two-and-a-half times more likely (19%) to read below their expected level than children who had their own books (7.6%), and were also significantly less likely (35.7%) to read above their expected level than book-owning children (54.9%).”

i recognise that i am in this instance coming off as quite middle class, etc, having books and having the time / chance to read etc and i was lucky enough to have a home life and family situation which encouraged reading and good teachers who did the same, but i think this is a really important issue.

we know that education, in the words of an oft quoted television series favourite of mine, “can be the silver bullet” and oftentimes a doorway into education is through reading.

i dont think i have anything more to say than this – a life without books is unthinkable to me, and i know that there are more important things in life – a stable and loving family, having enough money to heat and eat etc, but feeding the soul and captivating the imagination of young people is just as important and if there could be a “donate a book day” or something like a free library van that goes round and gives books to families that don’t have them that would be  a start and i’d certainly support it.

walking in Wales

over the long easter break, the missus and i took advantage of the great weather and a new present i was given (a guide to 30 walks in the south wales area) and got out and about. one of the things i was struck by, was if you like being outside and being blown away by not only the scenery by the wind as well, then why would you want to live anywhere else other than Wales? now clearly i am bias towards Wales (and as you will have noted from my blog title i am not Cymraeg born and bred and only came to Wales in 2004) but i pondered this as we went up the Blorenge.

aside from the great name of one of the peaks in the Beacons area, this was a great little walk with views across the Abergavenny area and is easily accessible so long as you can find the carpark. starting out at a the Carn-y-gorfydd carpark (here) its somewhat uphill but once you get there the views are fantastic. i’ve included some videos in this blog, in three parts – two from the way up and one from the very top of the Blorenge, which is the peak that you end up on top of – definitely a great place for a sandwich or two!

Video 1 – up the Blorenge (pt.1)

so the day we walked up the Blorenge it was incredibly windy as you’ll be able to hear on the video, so long as i’ve got the technology working (took me half an hour to log into youtube), but the views just get better and better the further along the walk you go. its not a very long walk, i think we did it in the time it said on the guide which was about 1hr and a half, so an easy afternoon ramble taking in great views.

Video 2 – up the Blorenge (pt.2)

and after you’ve put some effort in (not much as it slopes up quite smoothly) to get up to the top you have some great views across Abergavenny and the Black Mountains and eventually the “flanks of Gilwern Hill” or so my guide tells me.

Video 3 – top of the Blorenge (pt.3)

(apologies for the wobbling – nearly got blown over by the wind!)

so, what was this blog post about – how great it is to live in Wales. unfortunately i don’t think there’s enough Welsh blood in me to be lyrical and poetical about the scenery that i’ve tried to capture in the videos and that you can see pretty much anywhere in Wales with very minimal effort. how fantastic is it to live in a place where you can drive for an hour, or half an hour maybe if you know where you are going, drive from a major metropolitan centre and then be in a place like this?

obviously living in Wales i am incredibly lucky – i also recognise that i’m incredibly lucky to have a car and be able to get out and about. if you can get out of the city i would strongly recommend that you do so, get out get the fresh air and experience Wales as it was, in my humble opinion, meant to be. and if your walk takes you to a great little local pub, even better. North, south, east, west – Wales has fantastic scenery to offer all over the place (see a North Wales video below) and i would urge anyone who can to get out and see it.

Llynnoedd Cregennen

but please dont everyone go out when i’m out – its much better if you can see the Welsh landscape when there’s no one else around!