Travels in France

I flew out of Perth on the 15th June for France on Singapore Airlines, excited as it was to be my first flight on the A380, which I had heard was supposed to provide greater leg room. Well I can sadly lay that rumour to rest, it was not a comfortable flight for me at all, it was warm and leg room was awful.

The net effect of my leg room issues was that the night if my arrival I had terrible leg cramps, primarily in my right leg, but also some uncomfortable ones in the left. 

Two days in I commenced a Trafalgar CostSaver Tour of France, taking in the sights at: Paris, Rouen, Honfleur, Deauville, Mont Saint Michel, Omaha Beach (D-Day), Rennes, Amboise, Tours and the Loire Valley chateaux. We started out with nice, mild weather, but by the time we left Paris for Rouen the weather warmed, and by the time we’d reached Honfleur a few hours later the sun was out in force and so to was the humidity. The heat remained with us for 5 days until our return to Paris, it made for hard going as we were often having to go up and down stairs in unconditioned historic buildings. 

Our Tour Director, Brian Tait, a half-American half-French man, was very good at keeping us on track, entertaining and informing us, and providing support for those who needed a bit of language assistance. On one evening we had an optional dinner out, a 37 degree day and high humidity, we were all a tad worried, and getting to our dinner venue nothing was allayed when upstairs the had only pedestal fans and windows that didn’t open. Despite this, our arranged entertainment was great, he got us involved singing various songs throughout the night, and later Brian joined in with mouth accordion and sang a French song, we loved it. 

As with my first-ever Trafalgar Tour, also a costsaver, where I made lasting friendships with some wonderful women in Mexico, I also made friendships with several women from New Zealand, Canada and the United States. I’ve found the people in the costsaver tours often mingled more, but also generally my experience with Trafalgar has been one of a company that encourages you to early-on get to know others in your tour, something I haven’t experienced with other organised tours sadly, something that always attracts my return. 

My Trafalgar Tour now over I have a few days now where I am doing day tours, the first to Versailles & Giverny, and the following day to Bruges in Belgium. Then, one free day before I fly home, I’m not looking forward to those return flights, I’m currently waiting to hear whether I will be upgraded (at a fee) to Premium Economy.

Samsung Smart TV

In late 2015 I bought myself a 55 inch Samsung 4K Curved Smart TV, and it was beautiful. I had nothing to complain about the tv that it replaced, a 46 inch FullHD Sony Bravia, however it lacked all the features and the resolution.

I had intended to purchase another Sony TV when I went to JB HiFi that day, however they didn’t have any in stock, thus I needed to look at something else. The curved was something I considered a little wanky to be quite honest, and as an owner of nearly 2 years now it really is a marketing gimmick quite frankly, it means nothing to you when sitting your arse in front of the screen to watch Netflix.

I’ve found Samsung to be a bit of an annoying platform for various reasons, which I will outline here:

  • The TV Guide is just crap to use. My friend and housemate, who bought a smaller Sony Bravia 4K before me (inspiring my purchase), has a much nicer to use TV guide that is even quite visual. By comparison, if I decide to move up/down in my guide the tv pauses as it attempts to access the tv channel to gather the data, a terrible experience.
  • Turning the tv on is nice and quick with the quick start feature, however it attempts to log in to your Samsung account which may or may not take FOREVER slowing the tv to an absolute halt, don’t even try to access features on the tv or change channels, and don’t try to pass GO.
  • Access to apps. Some apps that exist on my friend’s tv just don’t exist on mine, the Channel 9 app being one, I’ve actually had to install this on my Apple TV just to watch their content. The new Foxtel service I went searching for today, it too is not available.
  • The remote control is great to use, but it can also be frustrating to use. The smart pointer can sometimes just decide not to function and be very difficult to make the pointer re-display. Inconsistent access to the smart point within applications is also annoying, some recognise it, some do not. If you remote’s navigation buttons are playing up, as mine are, then this not working is just plain annoying.
  • Just today I had a ‘data service’ notice pop up on-screen and nothing would show, it took me 30 minutes just to get tv service to resume on the tv once more. Thank god for the internet providing hints on what I should do. My last resort was going to be to pull the plug, this has worked for caching errors the tv has experienced, 10 minutes or so required.

I think when I next come to replacing my television I will look away from Samsung towards a better brand, one less problematic. I think I will insist on playing with the tv far more in-store before buying it, I didn’t do that enough this time to my detriment.

Time for a fresh brew, and name

For the longest time I can recall not liking my name, Bryan. My own spelling is the less common, most spell it with an “i”, thus colour me surprised should anyone spell it correctly. I think another reason I have a negative association with my birth name was all the years of bullying, it’s hard for me to separate the two. 

Ever since the upper high school in the late 1980s I had been thinking about my name and perhaps changing it. It was at this time I had discovered my grandfather had changed our family name at request of his wife to be. In the early 1990s I reversed that family name change, for me it actually meant something. At the time I considered changing my name too but chickened out doing so, I wasn’t ready. 

The loss of my brother recently has made me step back and think about things, my name being one of these. For years I have used my preferred name on forums, or if I didn’t want to give my real name to someone, this my decision to change this past weekend seemed natural. 

My decision to change made I changed my name on Facebook and made a post with one of those new colourful backgrounds. Generally most were supportive, while some expressed support but said they liked the old. 

Changing things at work was interesting, at present of course it’s just a ‘preferred name’ rather than by deed poll, but thankfully our systems support this kind of change. Having been at my employer so long I qualify for archival, I am quite well known by many people, thus adopting a new name may lead people to thinking I’ve left when I don’t come up in their searches. Or, as one staff member queried yesterday, asking whether the name change was all that was changing. Indeed the name is as far as this journey goes, but his asking made me laugh.

Suddenly I find myself the subject of curiosity in the office, and people tripping over the old name worried about getting it wrong. Some don’t yet know, so my supervisor is to send a tongue-in-cheek email shortly that tells people I’ve undergone a rebranding, I loved the suggestion. 

My journey begins anew. Hi! I’m Corin 🙂

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

I headed off to the flicks on Thursday to the opening of King Arthur: Legend of the Sword aware that this movie hadn’t opened to big numbers in the USA. I hadn’t read any reviews, heck I hadn’t actually heard of it until the week before when I went to see Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and a trailer popped up.

I’ll start by saying I am not a fan of Guy Richie’s films, he has a quirky style of film making that has rarely appealed to me, and sadly I have to add King Arthur to that list. All was going okay, not fantastic mind, and then it got into Richie’s signature talking style which I absolutely hate, this continued several times throughout the movie and only served to annoy. I think had I bothered to look up the film on IMDB ahead of time and discovered it was Richie directing I might have given this a wide berth.

The movie basically tells how the sword came to be, and why Arthur was able to pull it out of the rock where none other were capable of doing so. It follows his life from boyhood and eventual rise to become King, overthrowing his uncle who stole his throne. The graphics are not half bad, and I don’t think David Beckham was quite so awful as the media had portrayed him, though I do think he’s better suited to the soccer pitch.

Apparently there’s meant to be six films in total, it will be interesting to see if studios are prepared to fund them, poor box office receipts in its opening weekend in the USA mean it’s going to have to rely upon places like China to get anywhere. I’m betting it’ll be a one-horse wonder. Save your dollars for Wonder Woman, I read last night reviewers were saying it’s pretty damned good… not long now.

macOS 10.12.5: Needed further testing, Apple

Apple released its latest slew of updates for macOS, tvOS, iOS and watchOS earlier this week, one can only be grateful for unlimited internet quotas these days as it all adds up.

Whilst my iPhone, Apple Watch Nike+ and Apple TV all updated without problem, my MacBook Pro 15″ with TouchBar has started to exhibit a few problems in the past day or two. About two days after I’d installed the update I was swiping back from ‘Space 3’ which had Mail to ‘Space 1’ only to be greeted with a lovely red bar where all my desktop icons should have been. This kind of graphics tearing had appeared when these new MacBook Pros were initially released as drivers were immature at the time, thankfully by the time my own machine arrived Apple had just two days beforehand updated macOS to resolve the issue.

Screen Shot 2017-05-18 at 10.48.32 amThis issue is a tad annoying, though more annoying I cannot see others reporting the issue, am I alone in experiencing this issue? Then today I put my MacBook Pro to sleep as I went shopping and have this evening opened to surf the web etc, however upon opening the lid it booted up displaying the Apple logo. Initially I had thought I’d shut the Mac down and just forgotten doing so, however the dialogs displayed alerting me to the fact that there’d been a kernel panic related to CPU interrupts.

I have to say that 10.12.5 is really turning out to be a bad release for me and my MacBook Pro, I really do hope that 10.12.6 comes along quickly to resolve. Whilst talking of wishes, I certainly do hope that 10.13 brings greater stability than we’ve seen with 10.12, I would much rather see Apple focus more on quality code rather than banging it out, stop focussing on yearly releases and focus instead on doing a better job than you’ve done in the past few releases, quality has certainly suffered.

Blow me over with a feather: PTSD

I had my first visit with the psychologist today to discuss issues surrounding my brother’s death, as well as everything else that has happened since day dot. It’s probably as well she had a new looking pen, there was plenty for her to write down. She was much better than other psychologists than I have seen previously, so much more engaged, not the usual ‘mmm, right’ that leaves you wondering where to go next.

As I discussed events recent and past I mentioned how I often relived events over and over, often vividly, especially when I felt I’d made mistakes, constantly judging myself for having done so. It was the bullying from my childhood that often replayed though, constantly reminding me of what had occurred. Based upon what I’d discussed she suggested it was highly likely I was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). I was a little shocked to say the least, I honestly thought this was limited to people in the military, or those who were raped or similar highly traumatic incidents.

There’s an eye-based therapy they can use which will assist with transferring the memory from short-term to long-term, thereby removing the memory from likely being relived over and over. My little sister, currently working towards becoming a psychiatrist, says the therapy is very effective in practice, so I am encouraged to hopefully move forward and get past these long-lived memories, finally.

Time to talk

I’ve always been a loner, very much a case of growing up intensely bullied and either no choice or a coping mechanism. Despite the bullying ending once my high school days were over my being a loner did not, I am very much the introvert and do not enjoy social situations greatly. 

In my teen years, and again for a short period in my mid-20s I saw psychologists to help with problems and suicidal thoughts associated with what people had done to me, but never found them of great help. Ultimately I ended up walking away from their sitting in the chair writing and nodding and collecting their fee as I felt like I got nowhere fast. I moved past those thoughts and twenty years on I think I proved I am stronger for it, though I still suffer for my school years and fight against depressive thoughts. 

Sadly, depression runs through my mothers family like diarrhoea, and a bad case of it too. At the start of April I lost my little brother to it, ever since I have been riding a roller coaster of emotions trying to cope with losing him. I had thought I’d gotten to a place where I was ‘okay’ but then my father criticising me for not making a video for his wake (I had no content!), and discovering my brother had been suicidal for three years and no one told me hurt deeply. 

Yesterday, at my regular doctor’s appointment, I just broke down. She’s a great doctor, insisted on time off and using my workplace’s employee assistance program to get help. So back I go, in hopes that these psychologists will be different to those many years ago, engaged not passive, and help me find a way forward.