Tuesday, 29 January 2013


Sorry, that is a terrible title, but it's about as good as it's going to get today!

After spending 5 hours making the camper, I then spent an hour sorting out pictures.  Some are not completely in focus (I love macro photography, but hate it at the same time!).

If you have a weekend spare I can really recommend this model.  It was a lot of fun, and if it cost us a nice meal out then it was worth it for the entertainment it gave!

That's a lot of Lego!

One door, the tiled floor and covered engine

Side doors, shelves and sink are all in

One of the two (!) instruction books

My favourite small touch - Make Lego Models, Not War!

Doors, seats, table and some windows

The interior is almost done

You've got to have some artwork in your camper, haven't you?  And a plant!
One side done, the other on the way

And we have a roof!  Something is missing at the front though...

See what I mean?  At least the split screen opens :)

Door on, and we can see behind ourselves with the large mirror

Complete with curtains!

And the iconic large dial speedometer!

Scissor lift for the expanding roof

Scissor lift collapsed
Ah, that's what we were missing, the front! It's not going to roll very well though!
And with the chairs unfolded, and table up. And the Lava lamp of course!

Finished, except for a bit of a repair on the engine cover!

All doors open, and the roof up

You know it's a good model when you get a wine glass with it!

Just the roof to put on

With the bed folded open, and the table collapsed

I love this shot - with the engine on display!

And again! Shame about the door handle though - doh!

The iconic front

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Snoozing, and Camper Building

Well, it's nearly two weeks since I was hit with what I assume was a flu virus, and while the recovery is going well the fact that it is still recovery is really annoying.

The week of the illness itself I was totally useless - running a mid to high 38 centigrade temperature, shivering and hidden under a large pile of quilts, I spent the week sleeping and (not really) watching films and TV series on the BluRay player.

Except for Wednesday, I was that bad on the Wednesday that I only put one disc in the player, sleep watched it (ie it was in the background whilst I snoozed) and then when it was done I just did not have the energy to crawl the 3 meters between where I was lying and the player to change the disc.  So I spent the day with bad daytime TV on in the background instead. If anything is going to stop you getting better it has to be the bad daytime TV (or does the numbing effect help you???)

Thankfully things went uphill from there on - Thursday I actually got dressed for the first time since coming home from work on the Monday.  I was still running a temperature, but it was starting to drop, and walking up one flight of stairs was enough to get out of breath and to need to sit down.

By Friday I had to leave the house in order to get food for the next week.  A quick shopping trip was again enough to put me to sleep, but it was definitely going in the right direction.

By Monday I was well enough to get back to the office - but it was not a pleasant week. Struggling for concentration, and just wanting to sleep made the days difficult. Getting home I had a very boring existence. I cooked, ate and then slept on the sofa. Crawled into bed to watch the Great Brtish Comic Relief Bake Off (if that is the correct title) and missed at least half of every episode as I fell asleep really quickly.

After a week of that I was rather fed up!  This weekend I started to work out again, 13 minutes using the Kinect to build leg muscle again (they are the exercises that I do every other day when I run to keep my knees in good condition).  Really hard work - it's not normally easy, but it has not been this hard since around the time I started doing them!

I was supposed to be running today, but the weather is not brilliant, and I am thinking that maybe waiting will be a better idea.  I'll decide in a couple of hours whether to go for just a few miles to get back into it.  I think going back to 7KM immediately is not a good idea :)

So what else is new here?  Well, I've been getting back in touch with the kid in me.  There was a stunning Lego model of a T1 Camper Van that we saw around Christmas time.  But as I saw it and commented on it Mrs Stace did not think that it would make a great surprise anymore, and it was too much of our agreed budget for her to get some other things she wanted.

Well, a friend of mine posted a picture on Facebook last weekend of the Camper that he built and I just thought...  You know what, I saved the price of the camper when we switched BluRay player by going for one a couple of models down on my original choice as it did everything we needed.  So I ordered it from the Lego site and on Friday it arrived!  A massive box containing 1332 pieces of *real* Lego (ie not large prefabricated panels that many of the models seem to be these days) that made me think what have I done here???

Well, it's been a great buy.  Two days of entertainment as Mrs Stace and I both work on it!  We have now got to the point where the roof is half finished, the interior is completely finished (including cupboards, chairs that recline, a drop table and best of all a chair that folds to make a bed.  There is even a hippie t-shirt hanging in the cupboard "Make Lego Models, not war!"

Once it's complete I imagine there will be pictures posted until then here are others pictures of the finished article to give you an idea of what it's like.

Right, time to make some tea and then start again! (Yes I know it's geeky, but I still love it!)

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Winter in Noord Holland

Well, as recovered as I may be, I'm still exhausted!  And so here is a cheat post :)

Seeing as I am in no condition to run we went for a walk in the snow today, and I took my little camera that I got last year.

It was a really pleasant walk, and with the exception of the bits where the wind was blowing ice crystals into our face making them feel like millions of tiny needles, it was not *too* cold.  We got back and had hot chocolate (Mrs Stace) and a glass of hot mulled wine (me)  to get the last of the chill out of us.  Now were locked away from the weather, just wondering how bad the drive to work is going to be in the morning!

And me being a little cold :)

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

To all those who I owe emails too

It's not going to happen this week I'm afraid!

I'm currently as ill as I have been in a long time, and more ill than I want to feel for a long time after I get better and am running a temperature above 38c (something above 100f) and this is about the best I can manage just yet!


Friday, 11 January 2013

I am me!

Yesterday there were a few people online linking to this story on the Guardian:

Most of the time I generally read, go through the comments and see whether it’s reasonable discussion, twaddle or hateful ranting’s. And leave it at that.  This time there were a few things that made me want to comment in return.  One of them contained this statement:

Having a gender change, doesn't magically make everything OK, neither does retail therapy

There were others there as well, along the lines of why don’t we just get these psychological help or you can’t be a woman if you were born a man, or asking why fix the body when the brain is the abnormality.  Usual stuff, but I for some reason yesterday I decided that I was going to make a response (I even made an account on the Guardian site for that purpose).

And it turned out rather long J  So… I thought that I would duplicate it here too, and add a little extra to it (and clean it up a little ;p).  I think that it gives a fairly good indication of my thoughts about my condition.

Nope it doesn't make everything magically OK.

But, what it does do is remove the hell that is Gender Identity Disorder from life and allow you to deal with the rest. You still have the same life issues that you did before, but not the extra on top from the gender issues. And trust me, that helps!

The problem with using psychology to deal with this is that the brain for men and women is not the same, there are physical differences, and there are differences in the way that it works.
Studies, in the past using transsexuals who have died, and more recently by using MRI scanners to see how the brain works whilst performing a variety of tasks, have shown that the problem is in the physical makeup of the brain, and how the parts of the brain interact. How you think in other words. And more importantly - who you are.

So you see, I am not man who thinks that he is a woman. I have a female brain in a male body - yes I was asked to go into the MRI for one of the medical studies.(And whilst it may not be an answer to the how it happened question, it does answer the why I am the way I am question – which I was something)

And yes, I agree, the brain is the abnormality, after all I am XY and therefore it should be physically male. But, you can't change the physical properties of the brain (safely) and even if you could that would destroy my personality.

Having therapy to learn how to think as the opposite gender is not going to help. This is not a problem that I have where I need help to overcome something ‘wrong’ in my head.

Having therapy to figure out just what you need to do to deal with the problem on the other hand does.

Now, this has nothing to do with being a stereotypical woman. I'm me, nothing more and nothing less. I dress how I like to dress - not how I think other people think a woman should dress. I behave how I behave, not how others think I should.

Doing so would be no better than continuing to live as a man, living a role rather than living my life – and I imagine would be just as terrible; having to constantly try to work out what others think you should be wearing, or how you should be behaving.  It would be exhausting. And never letting your own personality come out.

As to the “cosmetic” surgery. On the one hand, yes I suppose it is. On the other hand whilst you can’t change the brain without changing the person, you can change the body without changing the person. Will it be perfect, of course not! But then… Who is?

Not quite what I posted, but close.

For the part about the clothes… I’m going to admit now that I love skirts and I have lots of them.  I love the way that they fit my body, the flattering lines that they give and how comfortable (most) of mine are. I do not wear them because I feel that women should wear skirts – that’s obviously bull.  But there is nothing to say that just because I am transsexual I can’t.  I do wear jeggings too, a bit less than half the time.  But I find it harder to find a pair of flattering trousers than flattering skirts.  I wear heels as well, not insane skyscrapers, but between 4 and 8cm. Again, not because I think that you should have to, but because I like them. I also have a pair of vans for in the summer, and trainers for when you need something that you can just wear the whole day doing ‘stuff’.

For the part about how I behave…  I’m a geek.  Unashamedly a geek! I have quite the HiFi in the living room because I like a) gadgets and b) really nice sounding music. I built a server for the attic before the summer as I was getting fed up all the USB hard drives lying around and wanted just a file server where I could save things too. I have an Xbox 360 – though I will admit I have not played on it that much recently.  Again, not because I don’t think that women should – some of the female programmers I have worked with would kick the crap out of me in an online game! But because I have lost interest a little, and at the moment just don’t have the spare time to play.

Put me in something with an engine and I can totally be a girl racer. I pick fast but comfortable cars; I have a super sports motorbike.

Both of the above were commented on when people found out I was transitioning.

I am not competitive.  Most of the time J  Meet me on a squash court and, if you are about the same level player as me, I will not be impressed with myself if I don’t win.  I’ll yell at myself for missing stupid shots or making mistakes. I will be aggressive in the way that I play and I will take pride if I manage to win.  The same goes for go-karting.  I love it, and hate losing when I do!

I will watch both “Bond” and “Pride and Prejudice” and am a *huge* Star Wars fan.  For the record, its official, the best films were “Empire Strikes Back”, “A New Hope” and “Revenge of the Sith”.  In that order J Any other opinion there is obviously influenced by drugs ;p

I also adore baking, though get guilty at the thought of eating all of those calories when I am done!

I suppose the easiest way to say it is this.

I am me. I am not what someone wants me to be.  I am not what I think someone wants me to be.

Oh, and whilst retail therapy may not help long term – it can help in the short term (whether it’s clothes, shoes or gadgets)

Thursday, 10 January 2013

OK, now this I think is innovation!

I was involved in a discussion on Carolyn Ann blog the other day about what is innovation.

Her standpoint was that Apple was and the rest of the tech companies were not.

My standpoint was that none of them are, and Apple is probably the least innovative (pretty, yes, innovative, no)

Well, I am happy to be proven wrong.  Microsoft has come up with the closest thing I have seen to the holodeck from Star Trek: TNG

This is just, simply, stunning!

Monday, 7 January 2013

Zap, zap. Oh. Not ow!

As I wrote last week I was a little nervous for this weekend. I hadn't realised just how much, until I realised I was snappy, exhausted and going round and round in my head.

Just what I am going to be like before the operation I really don't know.  Stress about medical things is not something that I do well.  I think that a lot of valerian may be taken in the time leading up to it.

But!  Saturday morning I got ready, tried to use the anaesthetic cream (wow, that is something that is not going to get easier is I think) and wrapped in cling film I went to the laser clinic.

In a very, very bad place. I am starting to get fed up at some of the comments from some corners when something is painful or difficult. You want it. Now, serious amounts of stress and starting to get fed up at a comment are really not good bed fellows. Round and round that comment was going.

You want it.

I'm going to be brutally honest here.  No. No I really don't.  And anyone who does needs to speak to a professional.

I really can't imagine that anyone would want to be transsexual. I don't particularly want the treatment either.  Having someone zap at your face (and other areas) is not my idea of fun. And the thought of major surgery doesn't thrill me either.

So, no I don't want this.  It's something that I am going to have to have, and it's something that is making the world of difference to me.  But, I don't want it.

That for 30 minutes whilst driving in Amsterdam weekend traffic is not pleasant and I was almost in tears.

But!  I digress.

I got to the clinic and went into the room.  Time for one of the most embarrassing things I have done (and let's face it, in this journey there are a few!).

Skirt hitched
Tights and underwear off
Lie on the couch


But. To be fair, once that moment had passed the embarrassment passed with it!

Now for the pain.  Glibber (I don't do that type of pain!).  She told me that if the anaesthetic worked then I wouldn't feel the cold of the gel.

I didn't (woohoo) and then spent the next 30 minutes staring at the ceiling whilst she did god knows what (it's the strangest feeling - kind of like when you sleep on your hand and it all goes numb) down there.  Staring at the ceiling and talking helped a lot.  But, it really didn't hurt at all.

Well, except for the ache from having my legs in strange positions in order to give access...

Or after either. Hopefully that means that in future I can not stress out when driving there!

(PS Sorry for the rant midway!)

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Wow, I made it to 300!

Wow,  I have actually made it to 300!  When I started this blog I wasn’t expecting to keep it for more than a few months before it petered out.

I thought that maybe I’d do a few posts from the last 300 to document my journey.  I’m going through the history of the bog and trying to find the ones that really ‘BINGBINGBING’ in my head.  Here goes:

Telling Mrs Stace, and the after effects:

Giving my dad a 60th birthday present he wasn’t expecting:

Barbie gets techie! This is what Mrs Stace got me for Chirstmas this year:

My mum worrying that I am going to over the top:

Stepping out for the first time, wow, was I scared!:

Meeting my parents for the first time:

Starting the process at the gender clinic:

Shopping (grocery) for the first time with Mrs Stace:

Meeting my sister in law for the first time (and learning to beware the wind!):

And of course, the transition itself:

And let’s finish on showing the online world me for the first time:

I can’t believe the change in me over the last 300 posts.  From a stressed out mess to who I a now.

I just hope that in 300 more posts life is just that, life!

Drink and drive, the Dr Phil way

Skipping between channels on Friday morning I came across an episode of Dr Phil where they were discussing the tragic consequences of drinking and driving.

He was talking with families who have lost loved ones due to them, or someone else drinking, driving and crashing.

He ended the show with this comment:

The easiest way to make sure that you are not over the limit to drive is to carry a portable breathalyser with you.

I can't say how shocked I was at this!  I was expecting that sentence to end with 'Is by not drinking if you are going to be driving.  Which I think is kind of common sense.

So now we have millions of people who think that drinking and driving is OK because it's endorsed by Dr Phil.  Just as long as you check you are not over the limit before you drive.

Even worse, if you need a breathalyser to tell you that you are not over the limit then that should tell you enough about whether you should be driving.  In that you shouldn't!

It is a real pet hate of mine.  When I got my license I made the decision that the amount of alcohol that I could drink and then drive is '0'.  That way I know that I am safe on the road.  The closest I have ever got is a small glass of wine and then driven a few hours later, when it was out of my system.

And I think that should be the law as well, alcohol affects people differently and so having one level for the whole populous seems odd.  And telling people that they can drink x before they will lose their license just means that some people assume that they *can* drink lots and then drive home.  Or that if they intersperse their drinks with water it dilutes the alcohol and they can drink extra.

Make the level 0 and you don't have that problem any more...

Oh well, my rant for the day over!  Time for breakfast!

Thursday, 3 January 2013

What a first week!

Well, it’s 3 days into the New Year, and so far it’s a little interesting…

The New Year came in, a quite night at home with just the Mrs Stace (and occasionally the cat) and the TV. And long distance drinking - I had one bottle of Babycham left so I called my mum and joined her drinking my last Brandy and Babycham until I go back to the UK and get some more.

Midnight came, fireworks went off, I drank some Champagne and we called our parents to wish them a happy New Year! Then after an hour, whilst the fireworks were still going off (until 5:30 according to Mrs Stace – I was out like a light once I went to bed) my parents called us to wish us a happy New Year! A little stupid thing we do each year so that we each get New Year wishes at the right local time…  Once that was done we went to bed and, as I said, I was out like a light instantly!

New Year’s Day started with a 7KM run, start the year as you mean to go on I suppose J The rest of the day was spent relaxing and trying to get over the last few days of stress in the office (every time someone sent me an SMS I thought it was a message from the monitoring system!)

Whilst cooking dinner in the evening I made a start to the recipe book that Mrs Stace got me. I started with the recipe for my healthy chips that I put on the site a while ago. (I called them “Non Fried Double Fried Chips” in the book).  Seeing as we had some time we had these on New Year’s Day.  Lovely!

Then on the 2nd it was all over.  Back to work, and back to seeing what needs to be done in the New Year.  And trying to get the energy levels up!  I think that everyone is struggling this week.  The developers with the stress of ensuring everything worked as we wanted, and the operational people with the pure amount of work that they had in the last 5 days of the year (yes, including the weekend!).

I think that we are starting to find out feet again after the break, and I think that after the weekend (which starts today for me, yay!) things will start to move back to normal.

And I finished the work week with another 7KM run this evening.  It took me back to my youth, running through the countryside, in the dark, with fields on either side of me.  With the wind howling through my headphones it made me think of nigh exercises with the ATC!  Spooky, but a nice run anyway :)

The downside of this week?  Well I managed to find the perfect way to start a new year.

Yesterday I had an appointment with the mouth hygienist, as I put on a Facebook post whilst waiting I am terrified of pain in my mouth more than anything other thing – having had a butcher for a dentist as a child.

And the constant pulling, scrapping scratching that they do fills me with dread.  Plus I have a few sensitive spots where I can climb the ceiling if it’s not done right.

She managed it quite well, only making me jump a couple of times.


Then today I had part two – a trip to the dentist for a check-up!  Great! The week is getting better and better. And she commented on how good my teeth are, and how healthy my gums are.


And then how even with all that I still need another filling.  Crap.  Double crap.

Still it could have been worse, it could have been the root canal that she said I might need last time.  You never know, that may come back in the summer!

And then of course on Saturday I have the first laser session to prepare for surgery.  I’m trying to work out what is causing me more stress at the moment, going back for the filling or going on Saturday for the first laser session.

Please let the second week go better!

Right time to prepare for the good day in-between! I took tomorrow off as vacation, Mrs Staces has had a couple of weeks and tomorrow is her last, so I thought that I would spend it with her.  So Ikea, Cinema and Sushi is on the cards.  That is a day I am looking forward to!