Archive for the 'Hobbies' Category

Let Them Eat Cake!

For those that don’t know me too well, what I’m about to say will compound every stereotype about me being a geek and a fan-boy in an instant. Any Professional respect (yeah right!) that I have will go flying out of the window, and I can hear the teasing from clients and colleagues alike on telephone calls, site visits and user group meetings for a long time to come. But I’m going to say it anyway.

Some people follow Football in their spare time, some people collect stamps, others go to the cinema.

I read Comic Books.

You know, Spider-Man, Batman, Captain America, that sort of thing.

Stop sniggering.

Anyway, one of my favorite Comic Book characters is called Quasar. He was a character created in the mid-70’s, about the time I was born. He’s heroic but he’s polite. He’s mild mannered. Not at all like all the other anti-heroes of the modern age. I’ve grown up reading about him and I know all about him. I’ve got all his comics. The fact that he’s not as popular as Superman or The Flash makes being a fan of Quasar that much harder. I get teased by other Comic Book fans about being a fan of Quasar. Now if you thought collecting comics was sad, imagine being teased by other people who collect comics!!!

Last year, something terrible happened. The writers at Marvel Comics killed off Quasar. I was distraught. The GG couldn’t console me. I moped around the house. Why would Marvel do this to a character so many (well, about 300 of us worldwide) cared about?

Quasar’s "real name" is Wendell Vaughan. A "Bring Back Wendell" campaign was started to persuade the big-wigs at Marvel Comics to resurrect Quasar because, you know, this is comics and people can come back from the dead with some decent writing.

Anyway, the response from Marvel has been less than stellar. Who cares if a bunch of fan-boys rant and rave about a character no-one else cares about? The letters of complaint can be strewn into the bin. The e-mails pleading for Wendell’s return can be deleted. It’s easy to ignore people if you want to.

So the folks at the "Bring Back Wendell" campaign did something a bit different. They sent the editors at Marvel Comics a Cake!

Everybody loves cake! It’s a lot harder to throw a Cake into the bin than it is a letter. It’s difficult to ignore a sweet-sweet Cake like you could a Telephone call. Suddenly the Marvel big-wigs are happy to chat about Quasar, and even hint he may return in the future. Great news!

The story got me thinking about something Susanne Dansey said recently. She recommended that on your next site visit to a client, you take a bag of Doughnuts. Your clients will love you for it!

Back in the day when I was an IT Contractor it could be real easy for the permanent employees (the "permies") I worked with to be resentful of me for getting paid more, not having to work overtime, etc. etc. How did I keep those "permies" happy? I provided a constant stream of Doughnuts, Cream Cakes and Chocolate Biscuits. It worked – I got on with them just fine and even made a few good friends!

Since I worked for myself, I’ve never bought cakes for my clients. But I will do now. People are happy to talk to people who offer them cakes – it may improve my relationship with my clients!

And who knows? The good karma of my cake buying may help to bring Wendell Vaughan aka Quasar, back from the dead. Fingers crossed, true believers.


My First Flying Lesson

Like many of you, my day-to-day "To Do" list is always chock-a-block. I generally divide my list into a number of different areas including "Client Work", "Business Development", "Technical Development", "Personal" and "Netlink Administration". But in keeping with good GTD practice, there’s another category on that list – one called "Someday".

"Someday" includes all those things I’d like to do… someday! It’s there as a reminder to me of some of the bigger life goals or experiences that can easily get forgotten when you’re focusing on the short-term.

One of the items on that "Someday" list was "Fly an Aeroplane" – and thanks to a generous Christmas present from my family, I took to the Skies for the first time earlier this year!

The location of my first flight was Wolverhampton Halfpenny Green Airport. Just visiting small Airports like Halfpenny Green is an experience in itself! Whilst I was there, all manner of small ‘planes and Helicopters came and went – exciting stuff for a 30-year old kid like me!

The morning began by meeting my Flight Instructor, Bob, who sat me down and explained how the ‘plane we’d be going up in worked. The concept of flight seemed so basic – and yet so complicated all at the same time! The most interesting (or scary, depending on how you look at it) aspect of this theory lesson was the comment from Bob – "well, we’re really not quite sure how flying actually works". What Bob went on to explain was that there are a number of competing scientific theories of how the ‘plane actually gets off the ground – and once I’d got over my shock at this statement, the theory started to make sense.

My first lesson would involve flying in a dual-control Cessna C-152 Aeroplane. Bob gave me a tour of the ‘plane, and it struck me how few electronics were involved in the unit itself (and all the other small ‘planes I viewed whilst at the Airport). Virtually everything was basically mechanical in nature which was very interesting bearing in mind the age of the microchip we live in.

Then it was time to get into the Cockpit and get off the ground. I was expecting the engine to be a lot louder than it was, but holding a normal conversation wasn’t so difficult at all.

The controls of the ‘plane were easy to get used to, but I kept finding myself doing the most odd "car" related habits – such as checking the wing mirrors when changing direction. What was I expecting to find, a Jumbo Jet coming up behind me?!

Once we’d taken off and reached 2500 feet above ground, I must admit that I actually felt a twang of heart-wrenching emotion! It was just so calm and beautiful up there and almost put your existence amongst so many others on the ground into perspective. In an attempt to curb these fluffy emotions <grin> I whipped out my Mobile ‘Phone to answer one of those little questions I’ve always had. Do you get a good signal 2500 feet up. The answer? A resounding yes! It’s a bit of a stretch to go 2500 feet up in a ‘plane just to get a good mobile signal – but there you go.

Whilst in the air a couple of things struck me. The first was that in the hour or so I was in the air, I must have only spotted one or two other planes nearby. A stark contrast from driving a car shared with thousands others on the M6! Bob explained that Commercial Flights generally climb to 30,000 feet – and that things were a little more crowded up at those heights, but down at these levels the sky was usually very clear. The second thought that then occurred to me was – why hasn’t "personal" aviation technology moved on in the same way as say, the Motorcar. Aircraft fuel isn’t much more expensive than Motor fuel, and there are plenty of small airports around. Perhaps I’m not aware of the many other factors involved – or perhaps I just yearn for Star Wars-esque views of the future, with lots of one-man flying cars around! ūüôā

We then headed back, and to my surprise Bob asked if I was comfortable landing the plane! Horrific thoughts of Krypton-Factor like crashes (as I’ve experienced a few times in Microsoft Flight Simulator!) came into my head – but with Bob’s help I landed calmly and without problem.

Once on the ground I couldn’t stop smiling! I’d thoroughly enjoyed myself and wanted my next lesson straight away! I’ve a feeling my next flight may spend less time in awe of my surroundings and more time concentrating on learning the controls.

Flying lessons aren’t cheap – generally ¬£100+ per hour – with over 30 hours required before you’re allowed to start thinking about going up on your own. It’s definitely something I want to do more of though, time and funds permitting and I already know a couple of people who are doing semi-regular lessons towards their Private Pilots License.

In the meantime I’ve grabbed the latest copy of Microsoft Flight Simulator to placate my aero-ambitions, and have started accumulating brochures for Hot Air Balloon flights, something else I fancy doing so I can enjoy another taste of life in the air!

Watch Out David Bailey!

Had a chuckle today as I received an e-mail from Schmap Dynamic Travel Guides asking for my permission to include a photograph I took and placed on my FlickR site in their next London Guide release.

Before I get carried away thinking I’m the next David Bailey though,¬†it’s worth pointing out that my photograph isn’t actually¬†a shot of London at all, it’s of a miniature London from Legoland Windsor!

This is all sure to make my brother Paul laugh out loud, as he is a "proper" photographer who has an eye for a good shot – whilst I’m a happy snapper who literally points and clicks. He’ll definitely say this is a case of a Mickey Mouse Photographer with toy¬†photographs! ūüôā

If you’ve wondered where I’ve been…

It’s been a busy few weeks here¬†at Tubb Towers. In between visiting a number of trade shows, going on training courses, completing project roll-outs for customers, installing a new server here in the office and most recently, some time off¬†for R&R – my blog contributions have unfortunately been few and far between.

It’s nice to know that you miss me though – I was genuinely touched at the number of e-mails I received asking if I was still alive and well, as my blog hadn’t been updated! Bless you all, dear readers!

During my time off, I took an opportunity to feed my other great geeky love, that of all things Sci-Fi, with a vist to Memorabilia 2007 at the Birmingham N.E.C Рyou can see some photos of the event on my FlickR account.

Apart from having the opportunity to meet Doctor Who,¬†Cat from Red Dwarf and a host of Aliens, if you were wondering why I’ve not been blogging lately¬†then the photo opposite should make the¬†actual truth apparant – I was captured by Stormtroopers!¬†

RC Boating anyone?

Just when you thought I couldn’t get any more geeky – I’ve taken it to a new level…

Yesterday morning was spent at Bournville Boating Pond, very near to where I live in Weoley Castle, where my brother Paul and myself regressed to childhood with our new Christmas presents… Remote Control Boats!

There is actually a Boating club that regularly meet at the club. Even¬†from an early age I have memories of all these wonderful minature boats moving around the Pond, but have never had the opportunity to have a go myself. Well I must say – it’s sooooo much fun!

The boats Paul and myself used were sub-£100 beginners models that use 7.2v 1000Mah batteries manufacturered by a company called ZFlites. The range of the boat is about 100m (enough for me to get the boat to go 3/4 of the pool without moving from my spot) and they go at a speed of "220mph РScale" Рwhich was actually quite fast! The only really dissapointing thing was the very poor Battery life. Paul literally got minutes out of his boat on a full charge, myself just a bit longer.

You can see all the photos of us gleefully grinning like little kids at my Flickr site.

Post-session we immediately went home to investigate boosting Battery power and ended up driving to SB Models in Kidderminster where the owner, a very friendly chap called Simon, happily explained to us newbies about battery power and other options in RC Boating.

Paul and myself can now see this becoming a very expensive new form of entertainment for us, as we’ve¬†already both got our eye on more powerful RC boats with better engines and battery life – they cost from ¬£150 upwards!


– I resisted the urge to drunkenly text on Thursday night at Dawn’s
leaving do, and again last night whilst out on the razz with Mandy,
Maddy & Kelly. We had a nice night starting at The Plough in Harborne before moving onto The Pitcher & Piano in Brindley Place, then a bit of a dance at Waxy O’Connors on Broad Street.

Today has been spent relaxing. After just finishing the Brian Clough Autobiography "Cloughie: Walking on Water"

(which was enjoyable, but I felt spent too much time on Clough’s
opinion of the modern game, rather than anecdotes from the writers
life, as I enjoy in a Autobiography) I’ve started reading David Gemmell’s "The Swords of Night and Day" which is proving brilliant reading! I’m a massive Gemmell fan, own nearly all of his books, but it’s been such a while since I actually made time to read his work that I’d forgotten how brilliant it was!

When taking a break from the keyboard to read for work, I’m currently being inspired by Michael Gerbers "The E-Myth Revisited". It’s seems this book is written specifically for me as a small business owner! A good recommendation from John Seeley, who I attended a seminar from the other week and found to be full of good ideas. Thanks John!

Readers Letters, Drunken Texting

Well, TubbBlog has been live for a few days now and naturally, people have opinions on it’s artistic direction.

Reader DB of Droitwich writes "Any
chance you could start a "who’s hot" in the world of music, as I have
enjoyed your predictions of the next band to break into the

big time on the music scene. Surely this is a must for someone with your unique music taste."

DB – thanks for your letter, and I couldn’t agree more. I’ve been compared to Pete Waterman
many times before, admittedly because we are both 80’s music loving,
balding, overweight, arrogant buggers, but occasionally also because of
our unique eye for musical talent. Those who value my opinion musically
know that it was I who predicted the rise to the top, many many months
before they actual made it there, of such great… well, such acts as M People, Lighthouse Family, tATu and most notably, Let Loose.

Keep them
peeled DB and others – I’ll be giving you some ideas on who’s Hot, and
who’s Not in the World of Tubb ™ in the near future.

Reader Dario of Italy writes next "
Richard, not only are you my most macho friend, but
also my pikiest friend. I salute you!

I can’t deny the macho bit, but to call me a Pikey? All I did was point
out a fabulous Travel West Midlands (and have I mentioned I miss WMPTE,
the little fella with the giant white nose? Nobody else remembers him,
is it just me? I can’t even find a picture of him on Google Images!) offer for a free bus pass – what’s pikey about that?

Whilst we are on the subject, check out this web-site for great free stuff.

Ok Dario. You may have a point there after all.

Off to Bar Risa in Broad Street
with Dawn tonight for her latest works leaving do. With the ability to
update this blog via Mobile Phone, this now raises the question as to
whether, like so many of us who have texted friends whilst drunk and
then regretted it in the morning, I will be able to multiply that
embarrassment by 1,000,000% by texting a drunken blog update that will
be read by dozens of people over the next few hours. Watch this space!


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