Wednesday 27 September 2023

But life goes on

 Though for how long, we wonder.

Near the end of August we had been looking forward to a solid 2 weeks at the house in France. The weekend before we went I'd had a niggly back pain that became problematic & moved around, peaking bank holiday Monday before easing off but not leaving completely for the next week. Thursday it peaked again, worse than before, and in the end I got an ambulance ride to hospital, multiple scans & stuff.

We see you have a gall stome, but we think it's a digestive problem. Have some codeine and gaviscon, and come back if it persists. 


Things got a fair bit worse that day before they got a bit better on evening Saturday next day, and so we delayed going away. By Sunday things were much more normal and so Monday we travelled. It was good to be there again, but that first week I was quite wobbly and suddenly much more aware of my own fragility* and the possibility I might not get to retire at all! But by the following week things were pretty much normal, work was done**, progress made and we now feel like the house is a really nice place to be. It's amazing to think we've spent less than 8 weeks in total there so far.

What was also nice was seeing new friendships deepen. Our nearest French neighbours moved from vous (formal) to tu (friends) and we met and spent time with several other people within the village. There's a flip side too, in that we've discovered not everything is quite so idyllic, but that was only to be expected really.

And so now we're back, ready to the 3 month run up to Christmas, damp days, dark nights and the rest. 

Chris had an eye op last week - seems to have gone OK AFAWK, but we've a lot of stress over lack of provision of needed medication that should have been available, but wasn't. Not cool.

* I need to make a 'when I die' list so someone can post to various forums and this blog the fact that I'm no longer around.

**My favourite gardening tool is now the brush cutter - basically a circular saw on a stick.

Tuesday 22 August 2023

Happy birthday darling.

You would have been 34 today.

The years seem to have gone by so quickly, yet taken forever. 

Wednesday 9 August 2023

It's been a (loonnngggg) while.

 Is it goodbye to Ello?

So many years ago now I was given an insider invite to the Ello network thanks to my good friend Randall. It had a bad time when the refugees from Tumblr's porn policy invaded, and was never quite the same after, but it was still a site for art and creativity. 

Sadly it's now gone. Back in June it had some technical problems for a while, then returned, but fell over again - permanently it seems  - at the end of July. Trying to access the site now gets an 'invalid SSL certificate' message instead of just an error message. Guess they just couldn't find a working business model.

I've been trying to figure out why there's no enthusiasm to post here any more. Some of it's the time/energy thing, but some of it is that I just don't like the blogger interface now, and it just drains away my desire to write something. The blog isn't going to be permanently parked yet, but it may remain quiet for some time.

Thursday 25 May 2023

Black or white hat?

I have come to the conclusion that there are only 2 kinds of computing professionals these days: those whose job it is to protect systems and those who wish to break into them. Nothing else matters. Work, health, business, progress. Nothing. It doesn't matter if you can't work effectively provided the system is secure and IT is being done properly. 

Friday 5 May 2023

And so we're back (not from ) outer space.

 The week before last we were back in France again, working hard, getting tired, making progress. It was successful: the kitchen papered, new light fitting, fireplace tiled (thanks Ben) doors and windows made to open and close without a battle after removing 130 years of paint and some wood, woodwork newly painted, ancient storage heaters and non-working oven consigned to the dechetterie, walls and a doorway removed in a bathroom, brambles cut down in the orchard. 

Those around my age who read this, have you noticed how the young seem to have unlimited endurance?

Ben came with us and, despite the broken arm, managed one-handed painting and tiling. He had so much energy, endurance, we felt that we couldn't just slope off and relax for a bit. So we managed loads, but this week back at work we're both quite thoroughly bushed. An almost 12 hour drive on Saturday didn't help, though it wasn't a bad journey as they go. By the end of this week we've partially recovered from that, but are now tired from this weeks efforts.

We had an emotional rollercoaster too, with a friend thinking they had lung cancer, only for it to turn out to likely be a complication of COVID. We're glad to have been told, but it did lead to a lot of emotions running around.

Tomorrow a bloke in London lets someone else put an old hat on his head.....

Chris may try to watch if they televise it at the village hall, otherwise I'm just going shopping in Tesco as normal and she'll do the washing up. Life must go on.

Sunday 16 April 2023

It's been a long time coming

 But I put some images into a zine - see here for an online version.

The print run is very limited - just 10 copies - partly because it's expensive, partly because I'm not sure about the quality yet. If this works well then there may be more zines plus a reprint. A coupe of months back I took part in a 'show' of local produce, showing my pictures on a computer screen, but with no product to put in someones hand and sell. This would change that in a positive, affordable way.

Friday 7 April 2023

So 1 week later.....

 Ben finally had surgery on his arm yesterday after several visits & rounds of X-rays. I collected him from the JR in Oxford yesterday evening, then stayed overnight with him in Oxford as a precaution (required) because he'd had a general anaesthetic. Managed to forget the toiletries bag & a change of clothes, so eventually got home, baked a cake & brushed teeth/showered. :p

 At least he seems to have come through it well.

I mentioned the keyboard on this new Lenovo laptop - it has a number pad that requires an offset & smaller keys, and that sucks for typing. Now feeling slightly tired after a night in a different bed & a busy morning. Hello Easter time.....

Saturday 1 April 2023

It's been a disconnected couple of weeks. Reconnecting in 3, 2, 1......

The primary disconnection has come from needing to replace my current laptop - a Dell XPS15 bought in 2014 as a work machine and replacement for a 5YO Macbook. It was better than the Mac in almost every way except the trackpad, and apart from having a slightly slow processor by the needs of current demands (4th gen mobile i7) it's still a really nicely made machine. Unfortunately the keyboard is now failing, battery life <1 hour & there's a windows driver issue that causes the processor to max for a few seconds every 10min.

The replacement is a Lenovo Flex 5 16" & despite the larger screen it's slightly smaller than the dell, around the same weight and thickness. Performance with a midrange Ryzen 5 series processor and NVME drive is overall much faster, but the build quality is a lot lower than the XPS and some things like the SD card socket are disappointingly poor. The screen is OK at 100% sRGB and it's nice to have a pen included that works with the touch screen. Wish I could have justified another XPS, but I've a main system upstairs for picture editing and other work-related stuff.

Why disconnection?

 To an extent the lappie is my connection to others across the world.

Despite so many negative comments about windows updates, when I first got the machine there were just 2 rounds of updates to do taking a couple of hours. After swapping the stock SSD for a 2TB drive I used a 'restore' memory stick created from the first drive to re-install on the new SSD and it only required a single round to update. However after theat there's the stripping of bundled junk from Lenovo & microsoft, then turning off the stupid defaults that are always included in any new build (like snapping windows). Next software installation and moving files across, which isn't complete even now, having to hunt down activation codes, installers etc. I also need to do screen calibration and then finish off copying data over - nearly 2 TB on the old machine, I'm going to be leaving a lot of the older images off. Also need to get files moved to outlook so I can restart sending emails (sorry V - you're not forgotten).


Any thing else?

My regular email address that I've used for well over a decade has started getting bounced by various platforms including gmail. If you have a gmail address and haven't heard from me recently, this is likely why, along with the above issues. It may be possible to get whitelisted, but that's another battle for another day.

Last weekend we were away with friends who moved a year ago. It is taking a long time to recover from the cold back in Feb, and I was really struggling with energy the whole weekend, plus that made it difficult this week. Darn not being young, getting sick etc. And it could be so much worse as some of my friends know so well.

Struggling still with the need to learn French. When ever it feels like I'm making progress something comes along to remind me how little I really know. 

Played my first gig since getting sick last night just, over an hour away in Birmingham. Didn't manage to get any food before & although I felt wobbly for the first few songs, it steadied up & wasn't too bad. 

 Around 9.45 I noticed that our son had tried to call me. Turns out he'd fallen while training on a climbing wall & broken his arm, and was at the JR in Oxford. Chris went to be with him while I came home, ate & then we changed places - she was teaching a card workshop today. Eventually Ben I got got back at 4am, getting up at 6.30 to clear up in the house he was looking after & then get him back to the hospital again - he may have surgery, but it's undecided. 

Honestly, staying up 'till 4am is so much more fun watching videos on Amazon than sitting in A&E in Oxford. :-p

Hoping life will get back to normal. Soon.

*edit* got Outlook up & running, emails coming in now, also calibrated the screen and it looks cleaner, which is pleasing.

Monday 27 February 2023

What has the night to do with sleep?

 Chris has a cold, and now so do I.

Slept from 11.30 to 1.30, then on-and-off until 3ish, after which it was not at all. Gave up at 4am and I'm now downstairs on the settee with brain-ache, bored & tired. 

Haven't done this for a while now, possibly because post-covid I've simply not been energetic & alert enough to get fed up with laying in bed. Maybe bed is just too uncomfy for laying in without sleeping.

Sunday 26 February 2023



Today I received a curious email, purporting to be from blogger, telling me that a post from 2004 broke their conditions of use. 

The obvious assumption that this was a scammer turned out to be incorrect, and I rather suspect it was the name of someone's bicycle frame that caused the problem. Having now looked at the guidelines I can't see which of them has actually been broken - there's no adult content in that post, and the wording is plainly not of a sexual nature, even if the things it refers to are. The offending post can be seen in all its glory below.

I can't see a way to appeal against the censoring - pretty sure the post was flagged by a non-human - and although I can edit & resubmit the post, after nearly 20 years I don't feel inclined to do so.

I miss the days of the internet being a playground for a small number of grownups, too difficult for a majority of both people and businesses to bother to access.

Monday 23 January 2023

You're nicked, son!

 Considering how many films are available through Amazon Prime, it can feel like a bit of a wilderness sometimes when you want something to watch that will entertain without giving flashbacks and dreams that you don't want.

So when I saw they had the Sweeny (70's TV cops and robbers series set in sarf Lundun) I had to watch it.

It's slightly shocking actually. Everyone smokes, all the time. Everyone drinks in the way I remember people drinking (not my parents FWIW) with nasty blended whiskies, dodgy fizzy wine to look posh. The clothes, the motors, it's all there guv. 

In 1977 when this was shot (IIRC) I had just left school at 16 - this is how I remember it was. People seemed tough, violence had been a part of being at school and certainly some of the kids I knew planned a life of crime - were quite open about it. In some ways it was a time of optimism, a time of discovery, a time of peak-excess when very few thought that we needed to be careful about the future. We imagined there would be colonies on the moon and maybe further by now, rather than the West becoming self-absorbed and the East crumbling into kleptocracy.

Thursday 5 January 2023

Talking of seasons

I was sorry to read that a fellow blogger - Fernando Gros - lost his mum last year. Seems to have been a bad time for parents.

In his own inimitable way he asks about how we process things and uses an analogy of a time machine. Sadly comments now seem to have been disabled, else I'd have left some words of condolence. 

This time of life is very strange in the way things change, but at least I've had role models. Being 'grandad' I find more difficult in some ways, my father having never lived to model the role for my children, and my own grandfather no longer 'being himself' due to the ravages of dementia and his own losses in my adult years.