Sunday, May 20, 2018

Seated in the garden

Eating our tea sat in the garden has always been a favourite experience, even when in ear shot of a rookery. Behind me as I type this is a majestic Monterey Pine that has stood tall far before my birth and growing up here. Also since before I was born there has been a rookery, commanding views over the village and out to sea, likely making it a very desirable location, if not for the noise. I love the sounds of nature, it is one of the abiding joys of driving a Miata, but the dubious pleasure gained from close proximity to a rook call centre is an acquired taste (there are times I question whether I have made the acquisition.).

My younger brother built two bench tables some years ago but eventually, as will happen to all of us, time and rot overcame them.   My skills have never veered into the path of something as useful as construction, so when it came time for a replacement Cathy and I decided on a very modest purchase.

Here is a photo of the chairs and table that I am sitting at as I write this. When I started the rooks were cascading some important piece of information, going by the intensity of their calls, probably along the lines of

"Oh look who has got pretensions to be a writer! Sat there at his table all writerly like, probably got nothing to say."
 "He's been out there before you know. Fountain pen and paper last time and where did that get him."
 I put it down to their being jealous, Mr Poe immortalised the Raven, they get a Two Ronnies sketch - Rook Restaurant

Anyway here is my new working location, weather permitting, as it does currently.

Friday, May 18, 2018


In a flurry of searching for my keys before coming to work I managed to leave my phone at home.  This is not something I do very often, (leave my phone at home, I often leave other things behind.)

I am surprised that, despite being 50+ years from my infancy, I still have a security blanket; even if, unlike Linus', my blanket is a phone.

I grew up with mobile phones being something I encountered only in science fiction. Telephone boxes flourished, mostly the red variety that sat on street corners like freshly hammered thumbs. No one would get you between places, you set off in the car or on foot in complete ignorance of the need to fetch some extra shopping or of changes to your day. It wasn't a problem back then, everybody understood. Urgency didn't attach itself to as many things as it does today. You had gone shopping and, unless by some fluke you happened to phone home or base if on business, whatever it was would be fetched on the next trip.

I guess the fire and forget nature of a man shopping meant that I was a little more thorough when it came to making a list. Now if I get that niggly feeling that there were more items than I had a note of I can just pick up the phone and check-in, mid-shop often.

At times I hear myself channeling my parents or grandparents when I slip into the "things were so much simpler in my day" mindset. We all do it at some point, I hesitate to say that it is a sign of old age, since I don't feel old.  There I go again, channeling my grandmother then. She always said in her 70s and beyond that she still felt like a young girl and not her three score years and ten. I would look at gran and think, "but you look so old! You must feel it really". Maybe in the aches of a morning, of the things she could no longer do or did much slower but she didn't let on to a young whippersnapper like me.

Back to that phone. I can try to describe the feeling that I had, which intensified the more I thought about it through the day, like looking into the abyss just before it looked back into me. If you have done this you will know what I am talking about. It was a clear indicator that I relied on my phone far more than I needed it. 90% of what I do with it is generated by me and not from calls or messages in, so I don't need it by my side.

I need to take some phone breaks, leave the tech at home and try going it alone some days.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

I should be writing

I should be writing, I should also be focused. One out of two can't be that bad surely?

I am sat in bed, or semi sat or semi lying in bed with this laptop on my chest. I should be catching up on the sleep my chair bound nights have deprived me of. Not deprived exactly, more the position I could get into the chair moved the prospect of sleep further away. The land of nod was just around the corner I just wasn't getting on the bus. It was bad enough dealing with the debilitating cough I had developed.

Crumbs! I can write some self indulgent rubbish about myself when I am feeling poorly. As soon as I made a post of Facebook in the early ours to say that I was ill I regretted it. Within minutes I was thinking of people I had heard were very poorly with something far, far worse than a two week sore throat and hacking cough.

What a difference a day makes, well two. Two days and a dose of antibiotics to be precise. Further to go, yet I can breathe so much easier and only cough every couple of hours, or if I start laughing hard, (which I am blessed to say is not difficult at work).

I wonder how many new posts i will start before I actually publish one again?

We are watching the 2017 film Dunkirk as I write this. While I realise it is no substitute for the sheer terror of experiencing it, I think it is important to see and try to understand quite what went on.

I find it hard to comprehend but I have a need to understand.

What happened in France and Belgium was a military disaster while still  a salvation of hope.

I wrote this as a recognition of what happened, not to celebrate war.

Oh look, I actually posted this!

Monday, May 07, 2018

Reverend Peytons Big Damn Band INtune

There is just something hypnotic about this band.

I would love to see one of their shows at some point. The one time Reverend Peyton and the band came to the UK we were in the US.

Here is an example of their music:

Saturday, May 05, 2018

I do seem to have a very low wait threshold.  It may take me months or years to decide on something but then I can't wait any longer and "it should be here already!"

Currently I have the need for a new, well replacement laptop.  I discovered that being able to follow instructions on YouTube is no substitute for experience. I had an Asus T100TA tablet and attachable keyboard that I had not used for a month or two. (For some inexplicable reason I have been using my smartphone and Kindle Fire in place of the 10" screen, whether to watch video, email or surf the net). There is a tendency for the Asus to go into a near permanent state of standby if not used for a lengthy period. The battery convinces itself that it is charged or is charging but the computer will not boot.

YouTube, that glorious source of knowledge seems able to furnish video on nearly anything you care to ask it. I found several videos explaining how draining the battery would enable the device to boot once more.  I watched video from multiple people to make sure I learnt the steps and that they were the same.  Videos watched, I went about removing the back cover, the one behind the screen. All went well, I slid a slim object between screen and cover and it began to separate.

Once inside I realised what looked easy on screen was not so easy in real life. No reference was made to using a chip puller and the internal plug for the batteries looked more soldered on than plugged in. What happened next was my fault entirely. I thought I could

  • a) prise the chip up with something sufficiently thin 
  • b) removing the case would likely only damage the case in a worse case scenario. 
What actually happened was:

  • a) the chip block that contains the bare cable split 
  • b) on putting the case back while I thought about what I had done, I found that there was a big crescent crack and some smaller related ones on one side of the screen.  
At some point in the past I had dropped the device and thought I had got away with just a chipped in the case. There must have been a hair line crack.

I started writing this blog post one lunchtime a few days ago, since then my anticipation has taken quite a bash.

I was picturing my new (to me) laptop being dropped off at a location where a UPS van simply sat awaiting my shipment, or at the very least the van would pop by at the end of the day. [ Had that happened it would have been proof that the world revolves around me, not that I need proof, it's just something I know. ] Of course this wasn't the case and my package remained at the UPS Access point for 23 hours 45 minutes until the van did come by. ( If I was going to miss the previous day's pickup it would have to be by as little as 15 minutes!) I could accept that the pickup had been missed and it would not have annoyed me half as much if it wasn't for the UPS app misleading me. For the whole of  Thursday the app said that my laptop was In Transit, when it was actually sitting at the Access Point. I had contemplated hovering late at work in case the laptop arrived late at the Argos store nearest to my workplace, I thought it would be the quickest location for me to get it from. At the last minute I saw the UPS info had changed to say it had only just picked up the laptop.

Well, only another day for delivery isn't too bad I thought, then I saw that UPS had updated their site. Delivery was anticipated to occur next week, not Friday but next Tuesday (Monday is a Bank Holiday not a working day in the UK). From next day delivery to six days, the laptop sitting in Bodmin according to the screen, really did tweak my patience.  A weekend when I could explore things on a new computer to a workday with only the evenings. This is definitely a first world problem, but it is my problem and so is a focus for me.

I settled in to seethe the rest of the day about the delays and rain curses on UPS when my phone bleeps.  I had forgotten something in my rush to be annoyed, a day is a long time in politics, an hour is an aeon in the internet age. Within hours my phone bleeps, "your package is available for collection at Argos", talk about pouring cold water on my anger. I went from grump to great! in an instant. When I could take a break in work I popped across to Argos to pickup my laptop. How the universe revolves. While waiting to collect my package I spied a charity box of secondhand paperbacks, not only that but some excellent nearly new Science Fiction books. The books were all ones I haven't got by Ursula Le Guin and Philip K Dick. The bounce in my step on the way back to work might have fooled an observer into thinking that I was experiencing a gravitational anomaly.

I type the rest of this post on my new (to me) laptop and it is a joy to use. Here's hoping I might be able to get more written, more often.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Better Vision

I treated myself to something the other day that did wonders to improve my attention and, in a way, my eyesight.

I had no idea when I made the, somewhat, impulse buy that it would have benefits beyond the obvious. Not glasses, or blinkers, but a pair of gloves.

Not just any gloves, these are Marks and Spencer's finest Italian leather in black, with the all important thermal lining - it's Spring here but the cold rain and wind suggests otherwise.

'Hmm', I thought, 'those will make me look suave and sophisticated' (OK so my internal monologue actually said 'more suave and sophisticated' - what can I say? I am a vain creature). In reality, as was pointed out to me the first time I wore them in public, they actually make me look like I lived at the shadiest of addresses, anywhere that would harbour your run of the mill serial killer. On go the gloves, the world turns black and white and I have the leading role in a B movie and not in a good way. Enough of the detrimental image that is conjured up by the sight of me in extra-large black leather gloves, back to the improvement in vision.

When the air is chilly and I go for a walk I put on my gloves. Everything comes into clearer focus, I see more than when I have walked a particular route in the past. The reason for the change is that I cannot operate my phone with these gloves on. Stab as I might (a loaded phrase given the look I carry off when gloved up) my phone remains unresponsive. I keep my phone in my pocket and just enjoy the walk, noticing so many things that they might even make it into a tanka or haiku at some point.

I have complained about not having much inspiration in the past, this should be less of an issue when I am phone free.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Goodbye Dale

I had been wondering what to write in returning to my blog. I rarely, if ever, have pearls of wisdom to share. After much contemplation I came to the realization that, given the likely size of my audience, I should write about things of interest to said audience and when I say audience I mean me. I had never been a big fan of Dale Winton the celebrity presenter from the 1990s and Noughties. I would watch him on the National Lottery draws and when he made celebrity appearances but I never sought him out. My opinion changed after recently watching a travel show he made of a visit to Florida. The friendly approach and self deprecating humour made the show. Without being obtrusive the show was as much about Dale as it was Florida. As I read about his battle with depression I can see that this show was something of a milestone for him, marking a return to television after a 5 year hiatus due to depression. After watching the show on the UK's Channel 5 I did a scout around to see if he had done any more but not yet. Ahh, I thought, I'll just google occasionally to see if he is making any more. The news today of his passing came as a shock. 62 years old isn't old in the general scale of things these days, especially from my position of a man in his 50s. I actually caught myself usually a phrase of my parent's generation "62, that's no age at all!" Thank you for the entertainment Dale, you were always a professional.

BBC Dale Winton a life in pictures

Podcast interview with Dale Winton

Dale Winton on Wikipedia

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Cornwall, United Kingdom
A married Cornishman who is getting an inkling of what he wants to be when he grows up. I currently work for the NHS. [See bottom of page for Blog Archive and Links.]