Josh's Blog

Category Archive : Life & Stuff

Dracoola….

Celebrated four days of no smoke or drink last night by heading to the Village square with smoke and drink. Jammed some tunes and had a nice time despite some frosty weather.

Met a Romanian fellar named Andrew. “Im from the place where Dracula was from” he said, with a heavy emphasis on the “u” in Dracula, Like ‘Drag-EW-lah’.

Really nice guy. Liked the Texas jams that were emanating from my phone.

That is the one and only time Ill ever run into that chap however, as he was enjoying his last beer in England that night before hitching a ride with a friend the following morning for a move back to Romania.

From what I gathered – his accent was tough to follow at times – he moved to the UK about two or three years ago after spending a decade in Italy.

Here, he worked at a restaurant called Wagamama1 at the Gatwick airport2. I think he said he was moving due to work drying up. He was excited to see his family, and looking forward to the beautiful country drive through Western Europe.

1 Wagamama is supposed to be a really nice noodle restaurant
2 located South of London

 

 

 

An outing with Sam & Village Square

Met a bloke named Sam at the park a few weeks back. Turkish fella with 4 kids, problems with the wife, but a sharp eye on fitness and wealth. We met Tuesday for a boys night out. A native of the area he filled me in on some of the good places to grab a kabob and showed me some interesting sites. One of which was the largest street market in England – a mile long strip located near Walthamstow Central – that at the time was closed and half full of the day’s rubbish blowing around the street.

We then went to the Walthamstow village square, which is one of my favorite places to hang out at. The square was mostly empty at the time save for two fellas casually bullshitting at a bench near ours. We ended up striking up a conversation with them. One of them was Italian, the other was some smartass from Venezuela I think. Not a smart ass in a provocative kinda way, just one of them folks that doesnt get basic social decorums. One of those folks that you half respect and half dislike for their lack of thought-to-speech filtration.

Sam is 42 years old, and ripped like a godamned Roman statue. How do I know? He was all too happy to show me pictures from his workout session that morning. I had already suspected he was in good shape during our meetups at the park, but its cold ’round these parts so ye really cant tell to what degree. Hell even I look pretty stacked with my coat on. Anyways, the dude is movie star material.

Actually on that note, Sam used to be in a boy band back in the 90s. Travelled up and down the UK doing concerts and festivals. Knew one of the Spice girls as well. Told me about all the crazy times he had back in the day.

Sam doesn’t really drink, only eats during the last 8 hours of the day, and works out 5 days a week. He’s inspired me actually. I really didn’t think you could have a washboard stomach in your 40s. You sure can. I will never have one because I like beer too much – but it is a nice reminder that one can still look like a spartan at this age.

Last day in Glasgow

Glasgow is my new favorite town in the UK. Although it was in full shutdown the entire time I was here, it still managed to charm me smitten. I am hoping to come back at some point and give it another go. Although the shutdown literally started as I was on the train to get here, I really lucked out with just about everything else.

My flatmates were extremely nice, quiet, and we all got along very well. One of them – the landlord – named Keira, picked me up from the train station and just happened to have a vehicle that was just large enough to stow two massive suitcases, a guitar, a large backpack, and me. Somewhere toward the end of her twenties, Keira is a beautiful young lady, a devout Christian, a workaholic, who loves the show ‘Friends’, and loves her cat even more.

My other roommate’s name was Kris. A Northern Irishman who has lived in Scotland for half his life, and long enough to sound like a proper Scot. Kris is the polar opposite of Keira in man ways. He loves Death Metal and grind core, he drinks like a sailor on a Friday night (we really hit it off there), and he cusses like one too. But he is also a very mindful and respectful fella, smart too, and he belts his words out when he speaks. Good guy.

Friday we had a little champagne to celebrate the good times we had together, and I gave a toast, thanking them for the hospitality. Saturday Kris made me haggis with mashed potatoes. Im glad I tried it, but Im not sure I ever will again. “Whats in it” I asked, “Oats and Awful”. Oats and what? Awful, like all the awful bits of the animal. Right.

My last day in Glasgow was supposed in involve one last walk around the town, the botanical gardens, etc… But Kris and I spent all night on Friday listening to jams, bullshittin’, playing poker, and more, all while cracking beers. When the beers gave out we moves onto wine, and then liquor. It was fun at the time, but the resulting hangover got up at around 1pm on Saturday, and I still had to pack and clean the room. So no grand departing voyage. I did go to Morrisons grocery store later that evening to pick up some ‘square’ sausage for Graeme.

Oh wait, one other reason I couldn’t go out is that I had some voiceover work to tend to. Must always nurture the income stream.

Excesses

1/23/21

Had a bit of a bender last night with one of my flatmates, Kris. The fella knows how to make a fine Old Fashioned. Anyways, during our escapade, we talked UFC fights (since Connor McGreggor is fighting), how to find Betelgeuse1, grind-core bands2, the Norwegian black metal feuds, and much more Im sure. We also played some nice rounds of poker. I came out ahead, and I fully attribute this to playing Waylon Jennings in the background

Fast forward to tonight. We planned on catching the McGreggor fight tonight via streaming service. The problem is that here in Glasgow, the main event is somewhere around 5AM, and now we are both too shattered from last night’s excesses to stay up.

1take the three stars that form the line of Orion’s belt, if you look straight up from the leftmost star in the line you’ll see a red star – that’s Betelgeuse. Also, the plough on the big dipper points to Polaris (aka N. star).

2his favorite is Behemoth

In Loving Memory of Scott Lanphear

I lost a brother this month (Jan 12). Although not by blood, he was kin by just about every other measure. There is a certain level of rare friendship you reach with a person where time and distance no longer have much impact on the sum of the relationship. Scottie was one of those people. Over the past few years we didnt get to see eachother much, but when we did – up there in Merkel Texas – it was like the good ol’ days when we were together all the time. He was a mountain of a man with a heart of pure gold. Scottie had the amazing ability to light up a room wherever he went. Our friendship spanned almost 30 years.

He left a world that was truly better off with him in it.

https://www.starbuckfuneralhome.com/obituary/Scott-Lanphear?fbclid=IwAR1IO3V8vVMxJODIiLj4VyLXXoLq8gIqnO1pUZv148j-5vYrWF3yYAKYphs

Scottie was probably the biggest fan of an old band I was in from 10 or so years ago called 12 Gauge Strings. His favorite song was called “The Window”, which he would post periodically on social media. It is an existential tune that is hopeful that we all might meet up again one day on the other side.
It is your song now buddy.

The Window – Lyrics by Kati (Weldon) Horton

It’s 3 am and I’m lookin’ out my window

I realize that this life is passin’ me by

This life is fadin’ fast, As I journey back

Down the road that I’ve come along so far

I used to think that I had forever

To do the things that I wanted to get done

But forever is snatched away, at any moment of any day

I’ll never know when my day might come

Will I see you when I get there

Will it be the same as it is here

Will we pick up with life

Where we left off

Will the pain go away that I try to hide

Will the end result be worth the ride

And can I be sure that I’ll see you on the other side

Will I want to go if I find out they won’t be there

They’ve made my life what it is today

The other side just won’t suit me

Cuz my friends are a part of me

We’ll make this time worth each and every day

Nah nahs FOREVER

Crypt-woe

Crypto woes

Talk about a real pisser. For nearly 4 years I’ve been nurturing about 2k’s worth of crypto investing. I grew it to about $7k before having to finally tap into it. Just before moving here to Scotland I put all of my money into stable coin (maintains a dollar to dollar value), thereby effectively ending any further gains while mitigating any losses. Wouldn’t ya know it that the very next week the mkt swelled in a 3-year bull run that would have doubled my money. Oh well, a gain is a gain. And I know a few folks that fared much worse playing this game.

In fact, my Mother was telling me some fella cant unlock some crazy amount, like $200 million in crypto coz he forgot his password. Can you imagine?? Apparently the guy stated that he’s made peace with it all. I hope so. I wonder if a hypnotist could pull the password out of him? Of course then they would have the PW too. Probably wouldn’t be too hard to prove though if he ran off with it.

New store, and more.

Wednesday, January 20th

Went exploring today. Some beautiful parks that straddle the river Kelvin here. Everyone seems happy and content. The city is much cleaner than what Ive seen in London. But there again, rating parks in a city of 600,000 against one of 9 million presents a few hang-on-a-minutes.

Found a great place to pick up swill here in Glasgow. Place is called Valhalla’s Goat, and inside you’ll find labels from all over the world displayed proudly on the chests of a sea of perching bottles. From wine, to scotch, to beer, to cigars. I immediately went to the Belgium beer section and stood in awe at all the brands I had never heard of. Still though, it didn’t keep me from purchasing two old favorites, one Chimay Red and one Orval. Both are sold in the states and both are somewhat difficult to find, with the latter being more so.

One more thing, while I was in the store the BBC was streaming the presidential inauguration of the 46th US President, Joe Biden. I had completely forgotten that was today. “Everything been stable so far?” I asked the clerk. “So far so good”.

One thing I’ve discovered here in the UK is that, if you ever need to know how things are going in the US, ask any European.

AS well, I got to discussing Scotch with the man. He gave me some good brands to check out since I like Balvenie so much. Lets see, this one here…(forgot name/fuzzy pic) ignore the shelf, this isn’t a highlands, it’s a speyside. “All highlands want to be Speysides” he said.

Really liking Glasgow. A very friendly place. Went to a Starbucks today and ordered a hot drink for 5 pounds or so. The barista said they don’t take non-contactless cards (mine is the old chip style card from the States), and that due to covid 19 they couldn’t take my cash either. OK no drink then. But the man insisted they would make it anyways and give it to me on the house. Just remember us and bring a contactless form of payment next time. Sure, do not see that kinda treatment in London much. It was a good drink.

Headin to Scotland

Well after considerable deliberation as to how to handle three weeks’ worth of radical living changes here in London, I’ve decided to move to Scotland for a minimum of 1 month. The house I am presently staying in is being remodeled to include a loft conversion, effectively making it into a 3-story home. Now, in order to add a third floor, you have to remove the roof from the second. This open-heart phase of the operation will last almost one month, and will dramatically cut down on the available living space for us all.

So off to Scotland I go on a wild hare journey to Glasgow.

Ill be staying with two flat-mates I met online, who seem to be very friendly and chill. It will be interesting living as a tenant in a sublet home, as it was just a year or so ago that I was on the other side of the table, renting out a third room in Denton (this actually gives me an idea for a future post Roomies: The Best and Worst of). Im looking forward to it, but to be one-hundred percent honest, Im a wee bit nervous, and a bit sad. Im going to miss the family here.

This might be the coldest time of year to be in Scotland, but I am very much looking forward to seeing as much as I can. As such, Ill be bringing along my camera, tripods and whatever else I can think of to preserve the moments.

Out of the woods… and in memory of…

Been a couple of days now since I was released by the NHS from self isolation. Apparently, so long as you are not running a temperature, you are less likely to transmit covid. This is my understanding of their logic anyhow. The funny thing is, I never ran a temperature during my infection. In fact, the telltale symptoms of covid were never apparent for me or anyone else in my household. In fact, when some of us went to get the test I placed a wager with them telling them there was no way they would test positive…this was a just a cold…it is after all, the season for it. Low and behold, they tested positive, and the next day so too did I.

Anyways, now there are a couple of new variants of the virus that have materialized here in the UK, one is a mutation of the original virus, and the other coming from South Africa. We are now in tier 4 shutdown. Tugh times for sure.

In other news, it is Christmas Eve! Anyone who might be reading this, I wish you nd yours a very Merry Christmas and a phenomenal New Year! Hopefully 2021 will bring with it the answers we all seek, the remedies we all need, and deep seeded happiness in our journey.

I would also like to give a shoutout to an old friend, Dale Williams, who I recently found out died earlier this year. Dale was old school. A straight up blue collar tradesman working the front lines of the carpentry trade. When he wasnt doing that he was at home making custom lamps with his wood lathe, or out on the shooting range.

Dale was like a second father to me bac in the early years. He was a great friend, an ear to listen, and voice of reason. I wish I had made the time to see him more later in life. But I will always cherish his memory. He was a great man. They just dont make em like Dale anymore.

Corona update III

Feeling even better today! Definitely pulling out of this thing. According to the NHS track and trace app – with all things remaining constant – I will be able to venture out on Tuesday, just two days away.

To pass the time I downloaded a few games yesterday off of my Steam account, one of which was a gift from my bud Jax. The games include:

  • Northgard – a real time strategy game reminiscent of Ages of Empires
  • The Legend of the Obra Dinn – stylistic first person mystery
  • StarWars Battlefront II – thanks Jax! First person shoot ’em up in Star Wars land
  • Pillars of Eternity – Role playing game in the flavor of Diablo

All this, in edition to my currently active game lists of Doom Eternal and the occasional Minecraft excursion.

Ive had the chance to briefly jump into all four of the new games and the one I am most excited about is the Legend of Obra Dinn. Within 5 minutes of playtime I was already sucked into unwrapping a mystery, all in a black and white, 2D setting. At only 1 GB disk size it really goes to show you that its all about content, in the end, graphics really only play a supporting role.

On the other end of the game size scale, there is Battlefront II, a game requiring over 89GB HDD space. I have to say, it looks, sounds, and plays great! But after a couple of rounds I couldn’t help but think this was just a skin on top of Battlefield V. Its fun and all, but even my wife’s seven year old was bored after watching me get repeatedly smudged within 3 minutes of game play. Still though, it is enjoyable and I look forward to the single player mode.

Pillars of Eternity got incredible reviews on Steam, but after spending about 30 minutes with it – so far – Im a wee bit disappointed. The intro is incredibly long, the character customization is far too complex for my tastes, and the voiceacting is a bit too wooden. How will it stack up to Ember? A small RPG game I played last year that was an incredible ride. The sound design on Ember was nothing short of magnificent, the settings were immersive, the characters fun, and the story a worthy ride. Been searching for a game like it since, and Im hoping Pillars will improve as I dig deeper.

Finally, the game that already has around 5 hours of play time (all from last night pretty much) is Northgard. Holy cannoli this game possesses the perfect storm of being extremely addictive, and needlessly tedious. It is also beautiful to look at and has a great sound design. After forcing myself to stop at around 3:30 in the morning, I couldn’t help but wonder about good ol’ Ages of Empires. It was such a beautifully designed game, with all the right checks and balances necessary to keep the game moving forward at a consistent pace. Northgard feels like it is still a work in progress. As a solid performer, a whole lot of fun, and with plenty of room for improvement, I think Northgard could become a classic after a few more updates.

So that’s it, a corona update turned mini game review! Looking forward to manana.