Blending a room…

Posted in Geeky Tech Stuff, House on January 18th, 2009 by Coffee

No, not like these crazy guys on this site who see if they can get stuff to reduce to small particles, I’m talking about using some cool free software, Blender,  to make 3d models to visualise some rooms.

My first effort has been a snooker room.  Partly because it’s got some interesting stuff in it that has been really useful in terms of learning the tools, and partly because it’s an easy room to model as there are some pretty firm dimensions required for a given size snooker table.

I have to admit to cheating and using someone else’s chairs and bookcases, but the hard work in terms of the snooker table etc. is all mine.

A couple of pics here (clicky for big uns).  Not 100% happy with the colours, lighting and shadows, but it’s a start.



A huge thanks has to go those that put their models up for download. Cheers!

Houston, we have a problem…

Posted in Travel on January 12th, 2009 by Coffee

And the problem is that we’re not in Houston any more!

As we had no room in the new flat for a Christmas tree this year, we decided to go somewhere rather than sit around staring at each other for the holidays, and as it’s less than half the distance to home we decided to visit Megan and Michael and the kids in Houston.

The trip started as well as could be imagined when we found we’d somehow managed to score a random upgrade to business class!!  Upstairs on a 747 in a flat bed is certainly a bit different to riding cattle at the back and trying to find a comfy position to sleep in that doesn’t involve chopping your legs off above the knee. Just a pity that we didn’t really make the most of it and couldn’t really sleep too well at that time of the afternoon/evening UK time, but as we were stuck on the tarmac for an extra two hours before we left as the technicians examined a dodgy wheel or something, it was all good. They kept bringing around more champers to keep us happy, and the extra room to stretch out was lovely.

So we were still relatively refreshed when we arrived in Houston, and didn’t need 3 days to get over any jetlag.  Good to hit the ground running.

Christmas was fun. A bit different for us to have kids around getting excited about their presents, although luckily if my memory’s right they stayed in bed longer than us on Christmas morning!  (We didn’t really do presents this year, except for the kids.  We’re at the stage where we seem to have everything we need or want, so spending for the sake of it seemed a bit stupid. If we see something we like during the year, we’ll buy it and think of it as a Christmas gift.)


As we’d never been to what seems to be the sole tourist highlight in Galveston, just out of Houston*, we took a trip out to NASA.  All good fun having a look at the space shuttle cockpit, and hearing a talk on how to go to the bathroom on the space station…  Walking along a Saturn rocket, seeing all the different stages and how much tubing was involved in getting a motor going was cool too. It really brings home how much fuel you need to get a little bit of stuff up into space.  Bring on the space elevator!  And Dylan was lucky enough to require Mum and Dad to buy him an astronaut suit – and he looked very cute!


New Year’s eve was just as much fun as Christmas.  We were joined by some of Megan and Michael’s friends, and also by seemingly most of the neighbourhood for dessert and drinkies.  Good conversation, good dessert, and a few nice drinkies kept us up far, far longer than we’ve managed for the last few years. (Last year it was just to two of us at home, and we’d fallen asleep on the couches by about 10, woke up about 20 to midnight, looked at each other and just decided not to even bother waiting till midnight, and went straight to bed before we woke up too much. Sad really!)

Other than that it was just a relaxing time, filled with shopping (not so relaxing, but still hugely more enjoyable than trying to shop in London), eating in and eating out (though our two attempts at producing a dinner showed us that simple ingredients like pastry and coconut milk seem to vary across the ditch, and we need a bit more practice with the American versions to be able to cook things as we’d have liked and expect to), and sitting around or playing with kids. And occasionally communing with lizards in the back yard.


Unfortunately we  didn’t manage to repeat the upgrade luck for the return trip, so had to decide whether or not to chop our legs off, but as it was only Sunday midday when we were landing we decided that we could grimace and bear it, and even managed to get a bit of sleep anyway. And here we have to add another little grumble.  We were looking forward to landing at the brand new terminal 5 at Heathrow as it’s meant to be great for a quick exit…  But then we noticed that we weren’t actually pulling up to the terminal but parking a wee way away for the dreaded bus ride from the plane to the terminal again. ARRGGGHHH!!  A completely full 747.  And buses. You have to be kidding!  BA, sort it out!

And also on arriving back we found that the UK had entered a small ice-age, with temperatures barely above freezing all week, even in central London. Not nice after the heat and sun!

Thanks for having us, Houston (and M&M!), can we please come back until spring?!

*Although I’ve since been told by someone at work that the art galleries in Houston are lovely to walk around if you’re into that sort of stuff. Apparently they’re completely empty all of the time.