Sunday, 6 March 2011

Fun weekend

Well, it’s been a busy weekend so far – but all good.

Yesterday morning I went for my normal run.  I have cut it to 3.5KM per day for the weekend as my knees are playing up (I could barely walk on Thursday – before I fell down the stairs in my heels ;p).  I think the problem is with my running shoes.  They are a few years old, and have had quite some use; and I think that the heels have just worn out and collapsed internally – meaning I have no support or cushioning.  So on Friday I brought new shoes.  Interesting experience.  As I can’t buy men’s shoes in my size I always have to go for women’s shoes.  The guy in the first shop was great.  He went looking for the size I needed, came back saying they didn’t have it.  Then he very nervously asked if they were for me or someone else.  Me I said.  Oh, in that case we have lots of other women’s running shoes if you’d care to pick something else.  I declined (I like Asics for running – they are comfortable and give good support) – but I thought that he handled it very well.  In the second shop it was less good.  The guy did his job well enough – but there was something in his attitude that said here is a bloke buying women’s shoes.  I think that they had a laugh about it when I left. Hoh hum.  The shoes themselves are great though.  No issues when I got back yesterday, and going for a run with Mrs Stace later today.

Then I had to go into town to get the car that I am building for my niece fixed.  I brought the bits I needed a couple of weeks ago, and I thought they didn’t fit.  A quick trip back to the model store with the car, transmitter and receiver and the guy showed me that I was being stupid :)  There has been a change in technology since I first brought the car 14 years ago and I just wasn’t up to date.

The plus side is that I now have a working chassis.  I had forgotten how much fun it was to play with.  I hope that she likes it and that it’s not too much for someone her age…  It’s a little quick, and she is going to have to practice with it to be able to control it well – mind you it’s going to be great for hand eye coordination!  Now we just have to pant the shell before her birthday.  We brought a convertible shell, are going to paint it metallic lilac, and we are going to paint a Hello Kitty on the bonnet and boot lid as she loves that.  It’s going to be quite a family collaboration to get it done.  I am going to spray the shell, and have built the chassis.  Mrs Stace is going to stencil the Hello Kitty on the shell.  My sister in law is going to fine line the Hello Kitty as she has a very steady hand, and then Mrs Stace is going to fill it in afterwards.  I can’t wait to see the finished result.

Then it was time to do some baking.  We ordered ‘The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook’ from Amazon and it arrived on Friday.  Hehe.  The recipes look amazing, mind you for the two of us there is possibly too much – I see my team getting lots of treats in the near future as I try more recipes.  Yesterday I tried the recipe for New York Cheesecake.  It’s in the fridge looking lovely at the moment – but as it had to chill overnight I can’t say what it tastes like just yet.  That comes this afternoon.  Yum.

Finally… Having played with the new speakers for a week I have found some unexpected work.  Our set up has been an iPod for background music, and the Blu-ray for playing CD’s when we really wanted to listen to something.  There has always been a clear difference between the two, but it was always good enough.

The new speakers / amplifier have spoilt us somewhat.  It’s not that the iPod sounds worse per say.  It’s that the new set-up show’s up all of the missing signal that the iPods poor circuitry, and the MP3’s poor encoding introduces.  It sounded hollow compared to listening to CD’s – and was not pleasant anymore – even for background listening.  When you know what it can sound like, it’s disappointing to have the iPod on.

So…  I have spent yesterday afternoon sorting the CD’s back into alphabetical order (something we do every couple of years as they get mixed up) and now I am busy encoding my whole collection again; for the fourth time (hopefully the last time!).  First time was encoded for MiniDisc using Sony Sonic Stage; second time was as 196kbps MP3, then 320kbps.  Now I am using FLAC – that is about half the size of a CD (three times bigger than the 320 MP3) but crucially is a lossless encoding (it sounds as good as a CD, and contains all the information of a CD – so I can convert the FLAC to any other format I need in the future).  After spending 6 hours doing it yesterday I managed to complete ‘A’.  25 albums.  That’s about 10% of the collection.  I think it’s going to take a while before the rest are complete (I’m 4 albums into ‘B’ at the moment from the 40 that we have).  I think I may need to buy more storage as well :)


  1. It surprises me that the question is still one of compression these days. Fifteen years ago MP3 was the answer to our prayers, storage was expensive and a few megabytes for a track was brilliant. Nowadays storage is cheap. When you can buy a terabyte drive for the price of a meal for two, why bother with a compression scheme? Just store it raw.

    I wish I had the luxury of a choice of trainers, let alone ladies ones :)

  2. In my innocence I was often caught out asking for sports shoes which took my fancy in my size only to be told that they only came in women's sizes! Sigh!!

    This was years before "trainers" became fashionable, i stopped wearing them for bike riding when fashion caught up with me! Once thought strange for wearing them now thought strange for not.

    Old age hearing loss helps with accepting music files but I don't recommend that solution.

    Caroline xxx

  3. I want your feet - I appreciate that I am only 7.5 UK but would love to be smaller !

    As for the book - check out page 109 - those fridge cakes are lovely lovely lovely.

    You might also want to check out Red Velvet and Chocolate Heartache that are too bad for the calories ...

    The speakers - I have some old ones that I used to love but black ash against a solid oak floor doesn't go. The valve pre and power amp have therefore been sitting around for far too long. Just need the £1500 for a nice new pair of speakers ....


  4. Jenny: MP3 encoding was important as it was going on my iPod, iPhone or Desire - there I only had limited space and I wanted as much music as possible on the devices (as it is I could fit less than half on the phones).

    It's still important for convinience sake. I am planning on using the laptop as my media player for the time being, and I do not have enough free space for raw encoding - as it is FLAC files are going to take most of my free space! 500GB just isn't enough any more... I see a 1TB internal drive coming when I get paid...

    Caroline: I did trainers in my teenage years - at that point I still fitted into kids shoes so I got them VAT free :)

    These days I generally wear boat shoes or cowboy boots in male mode.

    I was actually surprised with my dad and the speakers. At 61, ex mechanic / body worker he has poor hearing - and he was still entranced by the sound in the shop.

    Becca: They have their advantages. Last couple of times out I borrowed Mrs Staces shoes as they went better with my outfit.

    The downside is being young, insecure and have people look at you weird when you ask for womens shoes... And Gloves. Stll it's useful now :)

    I think that my colleague (who I got the idea of the book from) brought those to the office one day. They were lovely. Incidentally the NY Cheescake turned out nice :) About to have another slice :)

    We went for the gloss black speakers as we thought they would go with most things in the future. I just hope that the plan of keeping them for the next 30 years comes works out...


  5. Stace, if you are a runner (as opposed to someone who runs occasionally), you should know that running shoes last only about six to 12 months, depending on distance and conditions. After that, they're not helping your feet and legs and probably hurting them. Must buy runners more often!

  6. Hi Ariel,

    I run 3 to 6KM's 2 to 3 times per week. However, I don't have a great deal of background information on what to do in order to do it right :)

    I do have a pair of shoes that are only for running though (same as I have a pair for squash that do nothing else), and yes I have learnt - must buy runners more often :)