I figured I'd get caught up properly on things before 2009 actually ends. Just one warning... This is a VERY LONG post. And, I'm not kidding! So, if you have something you need to be doing soon, or if you think you may need to eat soon, or whatever, then you may want to get those things done first. Seriously... Last chance people!
Ready? You sure? OK!
As I mentioned a couple of days ago, we've spent most of December with my parents in a trial run to see how things go with us all living under the same roof. I know a few weeks isn't really enough to get a proper idea, but it's enough to give us a rough idea, and to make us think we're definately right that it's the best option. So after the new year we'll begin moving up there properly. In fact, we'll be up there most of the time. Anyway, back to my point...
I had Sky TV turned on up there, because we're all missing the channels Sky gives us. Freeview might be a lot cheaper, but it just isn't the same. I had considered leaving installing it until after the new year, but they had an offer on that I wanted to take advantage of, and the offer ended on December 28th. It was installation for quarter of the price, and a free Sky+ HD box. So, I had to pay just £15 ($30) for installation, and £49 ($98) for the extra box to have in our bedroom, at a total of £64 ($128). Had I waited and let the offer run out, I would havve had to pay £60 ($120) for installation, and had to pay another £49 ($98) for the downstairs box, as well as the £49 for the box for our room, at a total of £158 ($316). So, I'm sure you can see why I got it early... It was less than half the price it normally would be! Besides, if I hadn't gotten it when I did, I'd have missed out on all the movies I reviewed for you throughout December. Yep, that's how I was watching them... Sky movies! And Mam used the Sky+ box to record another movie I wanted to watch, since it was on over the weekend, and I couldn't be up there to watch it. We stopped the Sky subscription originally - I think it was about two years ago - because we wanted to get Freeview since it was cheaper, but we've since decided it's worth the monthly bill to have all the channels. More to the point, to actually have some sort of choice of programmes to watch. Plus, there's the movies.
No, the Sky wasn't why I wasn't online much while we were up there. The reason for that was a combination of Christmas preporations, not feeling like blogging, and the fact we haven't had a chance to arrange a wire to go in to our bedroom for my laptop to access the internet yet, which means I have to be in the computer room with everyone else. That might not sound like something that would make me not be online as much, but it is. Why? Because when there are up to three other computers making noise, hearing Jaws is next to impossible, which means wearing headphones. And I don't like wearing headphones for long. They make my ears itchy. Seriously! They really do! That's why I'll be having a wire going in to our room for the laptop to go online in there. No, not because headphones make my ears itchy, LOL! I mean because of the fact the other computers making noise makes it difficult to hear Jaws. Dad has cleared me a spot for the laptop in the computer room for now, and I'm happy to use it... For now. But eventually I'd like to have the peace and quiet to hear Jaws properly, and to not have to wear headphones. So, eventually I'll have internet access put in to our bedroom.
We - Mam, Dad, Kelly and I - have a few projects planned for the house next year. But either Mam or I will tell you about those as and when they happen. Who knows? You may even be lucky enough to get to see photos of finished projects. We'll see though.
So, yeah... It's been a funny sort of year, 2009 has. I can't really say it's been a good year, can't really say it's been a bad year. It's definately been an eventful year though, that's for sure! I did consider doing a "highs and lows of 2009" post, but I decided against it. Partly due to not wanting to remember a couple of the lows, and partly just because I couldn't be bothered with it. Besides, you've got enough to read today with just this post. LOL!
Mam and I did most of our Christmas shopping together, which was nice. It was even nicer that this year we had a car. Last year we had to rely on busses and taxis, because Mam hadn't passed her driving test. This meant managing heavy bags all around town, plus having to manage them on the busses most of the time, because taxis to and from Swansea - where most of the big shops are - would cost WAY too much. Of course, then we also had to make more trips in, because we could only carry so much. This year though we had the car, and were very greatful for it.
During one of our trips to Swansea I treated Mam to cocoa, a sandwich and some cake in Starbucks. We don't go there often - it costs too much to go there often - but every so oftten we'll go there for some cocoa and a bit of food. The stuff there is fantastic though. I don't remember what Mam's sandwich was, but I know we both had cocoa, we both had some ginger cake, and my sandwich was a cheese and onion one. I remember because of how good it tasted! I swear that's the best cheese and onion sandwich I've ever eaten! I kinda wish Starbucks was cheaper so we could afford to go there more often. But - on the other hand - I'm glad we don't go there often, because it means we appreciate and enjoy the stuff all the more.
Saying about the fact we had no car last year reminds me of something else I was going to say.
My Mam passed her driving test almost a year ago, so the last time we had snow she was advised not to drive, since she'd literally only just passed her test. That meant that the snow we had recently was the first snow my Mam ever drove in. In fact, she hadn't really had experience with icy roads before even. She did really well for her first time driving in snow. Especially when you consider that our cars don't generally get equipped with snow tires in Winter, because snow falls are so few and far between that nobody really considers it worth bothering with. So, she had those icy and snow covered roads to deal with while using ordinary, every day tires. OK, it was only a tiny bit of snow. But it was a LOT of ice! Besides, for someone not used to it even a sprinkling of snow is going to probably make them a bit nervous. So, yeah, I think she did well. Especially for not being an experienced driver really.
We had hoped to go to the pictures to watch either the new version of "A Christmas Carol" or "Up" or one of the other movies we really want to see. We had that other free ticket and everything. But we didn't end up going. I think partly because the movies we wanted to see were on at times we couldn't really be there to see them. Ah well, never mind. It can't be helped. Besides, I'm sure we'll get another chance to see those movies. Especially now that we have Sky back on again. And - with the Sky+ box and the fact we have multi room - we can technically watch three movies that are on at the same time. How? Well, because you can either tape two things at once, or tape one while watching another on the Sky+ box, and you can watch a different movie or TV show upstairs on the other box. So, we could - if we wanted to - tape two different things on the Sky+ box downstairs, then go upstairs and watch something else. We probably wouldn't need to do that much - if at all - though, since most movies have at least two showings on the Sky movies channels.
OK, moving on...
On my Mam's birthday (December 19th) Mam, Wayne and I went out for a drink. We went to the pub that's literally around the corner from my parents' place. And I do mean literally... The garden of the pub backs on to the side wall of their back garden. Anyway, we went around there and had a couple of drinks. I was only drinking cola though. It works out great, actually. Mam usually has Baccardi and coke, but only usually uses half a can, so, I just have the other half of her can each time. Anyway, we stayed around there for a couple of hours, then went back home. It was lucky really that we didn't have far to go, because it was that Saturday the snow came, and when the sun set it quickly became ice. It was still mostly snow when we went around to the pub, but by the time we were going home the pavements were like skating rinks. We got back safely though, then decided we were hungry - despite it being past 10:00 pm - so Mam ended up cooking food for everyone, since when one person mentioned food everyone else decided they wanted some too.
I was later than normal sending out Christmas cards and presents, so half the stuff only just made it in time, and the rest of the stuff didn't make it on time. So, if I told you something was in the post and you haven't gotten it yet, please just be patient... It shouldn't be too much longer. Also... Sorry!
Let's see, what else...
Boxing day afternoon Faye came to ask if we'd keep hold of the keys for Eleri, because Eleri was going out and didn't want to take them with her. They wondered if - since we're almost never early to bed - we'd keep hold of the keys until she got home so she could let herself in without having to try and get Faye up. Those of you with teenagers - or who have grown-up kids now - will understand why. For the rest of you... Well, let's just say that it's tough getting teenagers to bed a lot of the time, but it's even tougher getting them up! Anyway, we said, "OK," since we're usually up late anyway, and she went off with whatever friends she was going out with. She got home around 1:00 am ish - the time she said she would - and... Well, I think she had a good time. Put it this way, her cab driver had to basically hold her up. LOL! Man did she pay for that the next day! Still, as I said to her, what matters is that she enjoyed herself. Besides, it probably did her some good. No, not so much the consuming large amounts of alcahol part. I mean the going out with friends and having a really good time. Everyone needs to do that from time to time... Whether they come back sober or not is up to them. But everyone needs to go out and have a laugh with their mates for a bit from time to time.
All roleplaying sessions are technically cancelled until the new year, but - because Carl is here for a visit, and he doesn't visit often - some special gaming sessions were arranged. The guys had a full day at the new building where the gaming sessions are now held. That happened on Sunday (December 27th) and they had a buffet there and everything, and there have been roleplaying sessions here for the past few evenings. I'm glad, actually, because it gave Carl - and the others - a chance to give me a few hints before roleplaying sessions start back up again, since I'm rather rusty on roleplaying skills. Not the whole getting in to character and reacting to what's going on part. No, I'm talking about the whole "what dice do I role for what? And how do I figure out if it worked?" part of it. I mean, I haven't done much roleplaying for about 15 years, and hadn't had a lot of experience when I did play (I played between the ages of about 8 and about 10). So, yeah, I'm quite rusty on how things work, and quite glad of any tips and such at this point. I'm even more glad of the dice rolling programme Carl uses, which he downloaded on to my laptop for me, because it means I can now read my own dice scores. I have to have my laptop on hand for roleplaying sessions anyway, because my character sheets are on it. It just means skipping between the dice rolling programme (GMA dice, found on www.gmagames.com) and the word processor I use for my character sheets.
There were five of us who were involved in all three sessions... Carl, Dad, Kelly and myself, plus a family friend named Gareth. Another two family friends were meant to be involved, but Ian only made it to Monday's session, and nobody knows what happened to Julian. He said he was coming, but he didn't show up. Luckily we decided to start without him, with plans to brief him when he showed up on what had happened, otherwise we'd have been sat there all night waiting for him and not getting any gaming done.
Monday's session was a sampler of the Star Wars campaigne that Gareth will be running a little in to next year. It didn't go too badly, especially when you consider the fact that it was Gareth's first time being a GM (games master, for those who don't know). There were a few things that needed ironing out, but I think it went really well for a first session with Gareth as GM. Especially when you consider that Gareth hasn't had a whole lot of roleplaying experience, really, and the only person who's had any experience with the rules to any Star Wars roleplaying game is Carl. And, of course, the version Carl has been playing with his mates in Norwich is 3rd edition, and we're using 2nd edition, because that's the one we had a rulebook for, and many of the roleplaying rulebooks are quite expensive, so why buy the 3rd edition rules when we haven't even tried the 2nd edition yet? Anyway - for the benifit of anyone not familiar with roleplaying systems - the different editions sometimes have basically the same rules, but other times the rules are very different. And, guess what? Star Wars is one of the ones where the rules are quite a bit different in 3rd edition to how they are in 2nd edition.
Anyway, I play a Wookie named "Cascca" in Star Wars. A Wookie scoundrel, to be exact. For those who have seen Star Wars... Imagine Hans Solo as a Wookie, make it female, and you basically have my character. Only - since she can't have a bocaster (sp?) yet, she has a gun like Hans Solos, and a vibro axe. Axe wielding Wookie... Now that's dangerous! Mind you, it would have been more dangerous if I didn't keep failing my intimidate checks, because a Wookie ambling towards you growling menacingly and wielding an axe is - I'm sure you'll agree - much more scary than one sort of stumbling in your direction holding an axe. I failed the intimidation check so badly one time that we decided I must have tripped or something, and the person I was meant to be intimidating probably just stood there laughing at me. Yeah, dice rolls were not working in my favour. I hope they do - at least sometimes - when the campaigne starts up properly!
Tuesday's game was a Dark Heracy session, with Carl as GM. Carl is more experienced with GMing than Gareth. Carl has been roleplaying since he was about 8 - actually, it was probably him doing it that got me started - and roleplays about twice a week with his mates up in Norwich. This was my first time sitting in on a session he was GMing though. The session went quite well, though took longer than planned, and Carl wanted to complete the adventure, so we ended up sort of condensing the ending to get it done before it got any later. As it was the session went on until about 1:00 am. Needless to say, everyone was getting rather tired by the end of the session. But it was fun, and by the end I was even managing to remember the dice I needed to roll, and what I needed to get, for myself, so YAY! LOL! ;)
My character for that one was one that was pregenerated. He was cool though. His name was "Mir" and he was an Imperial Guard soldier, with pretty good stats, and an axe that can do some serious damage... If I can get decent dice rolls. I almost ended up dead not far in to the session though, because I failed a strength test when climbing down a rope, then failed to get my balance back, and the character who tried to grab me failed the strength test so couldn't hold on to me. If it hadn't been for the fate points you get in the game, I would have fallen down a VERY big hole, and been just watching for the rest of the session. This character sort of reminds me of Torak from the Chronicles Of Ancient Darkness book series. Dark hair, grey eyes, clan tattoos, reminders of past adventures sewn on to his uniform - OK, for Torak it would be "jerkin" not uniform as such - and an apparent liking for getting in to danger, but somehow scraping through. It's like Torak, only with guns and spaceships! LOL!
On Wednesday we had a Dungeons And Dragons session, and Dad was DM (it's called "dungeon master" instead for Dungeons And Dragons games). Dad's had a lot of experience being a GM or DM, since he's been roleplaying since before Carl and I were born, and Carl - the oldest of the two of us - is now 26. I'd say that gives him a bit of experience, wouldn't you? LOL! I'm not sure what edition it was. I think it may have been 3rd edition, but don't quote me on that. Anyway, the session went well, though ran much later than we planned, so by the end everyone was getting tired and irritable. We really wanted to finish the adventure though, despite the fact it meant not finishing up until about 2:00 am.
My D and D character is a Halfling mage named "Poppy Bramblerose" that I created myself... Well, with a bit of help from Kelly. OK, a lot of help, happy? LOL! Anyway, she doesn't have much armour, but - if I can get decent dice rolls - she can do some pretty good damage. Especially since she has an ability called "Wizard's Fury" that allows her to use one of her spells as a minor action, allowing her to have two attack attempts in each of her turns. Admittedly that ability can only be used during one encounter per gaming day, but it would be rare for more than one encounter - fight, basically - per game day anyway. I mean, I think we played for what worked out as the equivllant of almost a week in game time (the DM or GM tells us what time has passed) and in that time we had two encounters. One of them the huge one at the end, where there were LOADS of monsters - many of them level 2 and up - against 5 level 1 characters. We didn't lose a single player though, and killed every last monster. So, yay us!
Don't worry if you didn't understand most of that roleplaying section of the post. If you do, then great. If you want to, then feel free to ask questions... I'll do my best to answer them (even if I have to ask Kelly what the answers are, lol). If you don't know, and don't care... Well, that's up to you, and that's fine too. Nobody will be knocking on your door with the intention of holding a gun to your head and insisting you learn to understand how roleplaying games work... Honest! And, if someone does do that... They wouldn't have been sent by me, so don't blame me for it! ;)
Let me think, what else...
I don't know if I mentioned this before, but I ended up stopping going to the social group I went to in September. Why? Because it wasn't really what I was looking for. I was looking for a group of people who may have some understanding of my sight loss, that I could talk with... Perhaps make friends with... At the very least, swap stories with. But that group seemed more interested in arranging trips out to political meetings, and inviting important sounding people to speak to them. How can you call your group a "social group" when you don't do much socializing? *Shrugs* So, it wasn't what I was looking to be a part of. I mean, I'm all for outings, but to places of interest to me, and I have no interest in politics, so I have no intention of wasting my time going all the way up to London to sit in on less important political meetings. And if I'm going to spend an afternoon listening to someone talking about something, I'd like it to be something I'm interested in... And two hours talking about label readers doesn't appeal to me. Now, if the talks were followed by a bit of proper socializing... Actually sitting and talking to each other about whatever we want to chat about, then perhaps I'd be a bit more interested in going. But since they seem to basically listen to those talks then go home... Nah! I think I'll give it a miss. If I want to listen to things like that for hours, I can do it at home by going to the website and having Jaws read it out to me. Or turrning on one of the local radio stations or TV stations. There's also the option of having the talking newspaper sent to me. Or, of just letting my Nan read the stuff that she considers important to me from the actual newspaper (which is what I generally do, unless I go for the radio station option).
OK, enough on that, I think!
Do you remember me mentioning Pia - a friend from childhood - a couple of months ago? Well, Pia's little sister, Louise (no, not the one who posts on the blogs sometimes, another Louise) is having a baby in March. I'm not going tto tell you more than that it's due in March, and I'm to be an honorary auntie though. Mam may tell you more soon - like the baby's sex, what it's to be called, and exactly when it's due - but if she doesn't then I'll tell you about it when the baby is born. I can't remember the actual due date anyway. Besides, leaving it for her to tell you about might encourage her to do another post, since she hasn't done a update type post in a while. ;)
I think that just about covers everything. So... Enjoy whatever's left of your day, stay safe, stay warm... And enjoy whatever you're doing to see in the new year! :)
P.S. Did you know it's already 2010 in some parts of the world? For example, New Zealand and Australia.