Christmas Comes Early

The other night, Fliss offered me my christmas present early because it “wasn’t something I could take to Scotland.” Fair play, thought I – nothing like getting something nice unexpectedly.

Turned out it was a cappucino machine that works with instant coffee. Sweet!

Well, aside from the fact that buying an insomniac a coffee machine is a bit like buying a haemophiliac an acupuncture kit. Still, I’ve wanted one of these for ages, but always considered it too much of a luxury.

As soon as the box was open, I immediately got it plugged in and ran it through a cleaning cycle, before firing in some of my Columbian instant coffee. Turning the dial a quarter turn clockwise inserts a shot of coffee, so I turned it twice for good measure, then turned it the quarter turn anti-clockwise to start the process going. It made all the right sounds, too – lots of hissing and frothing accompanied with a rising plume of steam.

The end result was really good – a very high quality cup, by my standards, considering it didn’t cost the usual Starbucks prices. I was a little wired for the rest of the evening, which is to be expected after drinking strong coffee. Unless a resting pulse of 170bpm is considered normal, I think I’ll buy myself some decaf so that I can make use of it during the week, rather than just at weekens and holidays.

Now, if only I’d thought of something as good to get for Fliss

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Game On

I ? My PSP

Historically, I haven’t bothered with handheld/portable gaming – and certainly not since my Atari Lynx was in its heyday. I really did like my Lynx, as bulky and retro as it seems now, despite the fact it sucked up battery power and pretty much confirmed my status as an ultra-geek in the early 90’s.

The more popular Nintendo GameBoy, with it’s plethora of versions and abundance of side–scrolling platform games, left me cold. I’d made my mind up pretty early on that; given the choice of driving racing cars or piloting flying machines, against rescuing princesses as a fat Italian plummer, well, I’d be racing or flying every time. The GameBoy didn’t do those type of games. At least, not with any conviction.

Which meant that, hand held gaming wise, it’s been a bit of a barren spell since the power button on my Lynx stopped latching on and I gave up on it. Then, in September 2005 a PSP fell into my lap, so to speak.

Working in the games industry I’d played one before I owned one, admittedly, and it wasn’t love at first sight, despite how pretty the hardware is. Being someone who prefers practical design over aesthetics, I instantly took a dislike to the sheer disregard for ergonomics in the PSP‘s construction. Hence, in the first ten months of ownership, the only two games I thought worth working my hand into a claw over were Wipeout Pure and GTA Liberty City Stories. As you can imagine, with only two games going for it, my PSP spent a great deal of time gathering dust on the shelf. I figured that maybe handheld gaming just wasn’t for me.

That was until the second wave of PSP games started arriving. In the space of a few weeks back in June I had picked up SOCOM Fireteam Bravo, Worms, and Football Manager Handheld. Those three games alone began to change my gaming habits, with play on the PSP taking the place of my lunchtime PS2 gaming sessions. It’s not that they were ridiculously addictive games – just that they were well suited to the PSP, which in turn made them more playable than some of the early ports.

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Tears on my pillow

The orthopaedic pillow experiment ended but a week after it began, as (even more) sleepless nights, coupled with uncomfortable neck pain, had me return to the relative bliss of a regular pillow.

As someone who doesn’t sleep very well, ever, I’m always keen to try out something that might be the silver bullet as far as getting a good night of rest is concerned. I’ve bought a mattress topper to make my bed more comfy, I wear a hat to stop my head getting cold, I wear a sleep mask thing that Fliss & Elisha bought me earlier in the year, and I just about ended up addicted to the nasal spray Otravine this year, due to the fact it helps me breathe through the night. None of which seem to be the key to the vast, towering gates which surround and bar me from the Land of Nod.

Having weaned myself off of the Otravine the week before I picked up the orthopaedic pillow, I really did think that this particular new hope would not only cradle my head and neck in a similar way to which Angelina Jolie’s left breast might, but would keep my airways aligned in a way that would promote a deep and refreshing sleep. Heck, come to think of it, I’d have settled with one out of those two ideals. In the event I got neither.

So I’m almost back to square one. I’m off the Otravine until hay fever season deems it necessary, so that’s good. However, although the regular pillow has been more comfortable to sleep on, I’m still enduring neck pain caused by my brief stint on the fancy orthopaedic pillow – the sole reason of which is to avoid neck pain.

I didn’t even have any bloody neck pain in the first place – I just figured it’d do the trick for my breathing, but no – this cant just be a mild £25 failure – this has to be a spectacular £25 and residual neck pain failure.

I’d wager that Atlantis, the ends of rainbows, Lord Lucan, polite teenagers, the Holy Grail, and, lets be festive here, Santa Claus are all much easier to find than a good nights sleep.

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