Monday, June 27, 2011

Sunday in the Wharfe

Spent yesterday afternoon pratting around with an inflatable boat on the River Wharfe at Burnsall, North
All the warnings about inflatables can make you feel wary of them. All I got was wet, much to chagrin of wife and sons, who seemed to be expecting the old git to get washed downriver half a mile or so, at the least. Sorry to disappoint, didn't crawl out of the river like a drowned-rat before a barbequing crowd at Appletreewick but bailed out when I realised the strength of the current meant I was going round in circles that were leading me on a spiral course downriver. I got out, in rather ungainly fashion, have to admit, while I still knew how deep the river was.


Another victory for pester-power. I was prevailed upon by my sons to purchase an X-Box last Christmas. While we've had PlayStations and WIIs and Gameboys and PSPs have come and gone, the X-Box has given us a new - and terrifying - dimension that I was unaware of when I parted with my hard-earned.
The first signs were there on Christmas Day, when I was asked for the Router access details. On asking why, when I thought they were busy zapping virtual reality life forms, was so that they could go online. Didn't I realise, they asked, that the X-Box allows you to play with anyone who's online and playing the same game you are!
Now, several things tend to happen when you allow any geek or game-obsessed cyber warrior into your home. Your children turn into angry call-centre clone operatives, with the stupid head set and mouthpiece while they discuss the merits of graphics and tactics with heaven-knows who. They also run the risk of turning into the "last to be picked" for a team, or the first to be picked on if their playing skills are not as developed as the unseen group they've joined.
We've also had to endure the threat of being hacked and the heart-rending reality of being removed from a supposed-friend's playlist for committing some unspoken adolescent cyber-howler.
I suppose I'm open to criticism for not researching the full potential of the thing before buying it. But the danger far-outweighs the benefits. Not so long ago, the school bully stayed at school or followed you down the road home, but would soon give up if the walk was too long; now you can be turned into a slobbering wreck in the discomfort of your own room and in front of your own TV. It's reality gaming but far too real for me.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

York amid the tourists

To York for a course from work. Walking from train station to the venue, part of the Theatre Royal that dates from the 13th century and used to form part of the cellar of St Leonard's Hospital, the way kept being blocked by group of Japanese tourists. They were intent of capturing all the city with a digital camera - on a tripod, which they placed on the pavement at regular intervals, slowing everything to a crawl. I was too polite to get in the way of the shot - even though for many of them I couldn't actually see any merit in the view - so that the five minute stroll turned into a fraught stop-start meander.

On the way back to the station I was approached by a middle-aged woman with an eastern European accent wanting directions to the National Railway Museum. I offered to show her, as it was on my route before realising that - at 5.05 pm it would be on the point of closing. The look on her face when I told her, allowing for the time lag in translation, was one of utmost disappointment. Turned out she was doing York in a day. Hard work sightseeing, apparently.