BEFORE YOU START: Please note that although I currently volunteer for both the Stroke Association and Age UK, the views expressed in this blog are strictly my own. I am not a spokesperson for either (or, indeed, for any) organisation, and I accept complete responsibility for the views expressed herein. As indicated by the domain name, I am based in the UK and the blog therefore has a UK bias - I've tried to use the Glossary to explain any ambiguous terms, but if you think there is anything I've missed, please message me.

Sunday, 21 July 2019


A shout-out this morning to me Iranian friends, who are most likely fed exactly the same propaganda by their government, their media, as I am, and who probably have as little idea of truth as I do.


I don't actually do as much these days, but I think about things a whole lot more.

Somebody the other day asked me about my views on religion. I gave my stock response - that if somebody decided to embrace a religion, then that was fine. Would likely be very positive for them, in fact. But they need to understand that they're only really qualified to make the decision for themselves, not anybody else. So I have no time for somebody who tries to convince somebody else to adopt their beliefs. The fundamental premise, that what I believe is better than what you believe, is wrong.

To me, anyway. This is a view I've held for decades, so I'm perfectly comfortable with it.So, I'm perfectly comfortable with the principle that, what somebody decides is good for them, is nobody else's business.

However, there I leave my comfort zone. Because of one specific issue - the environment. I'm happy to do what I can - less meat, no flying etc. But, actually, I want you to do your bit too. When you pollute the environment, I have a problem with it. Because ultimately, your actions will affect me.

In the same vein, I see a conflict with, say, the Extinction Rebellion protesters. My gut feel is that they should not be disrupting people or businesses, but in their defence, those businesses are actively harming the environment. It might not be obvious now, because from day-to-day, we don't see it with our eyes, but science is detecting it in many areas. One might hope that companies would understand that their very existence would depend upon having a benign environment in which to work, but making a buck as quickly as possible always wins the day.

I suppose you can't blame a business for thinking in this way - their goal is to deliver growth for their shareholders, it doesn't surprise me that they are interested in the next two years, rather than the next hundred - but it does highlight to me that governments should be doing more, by constructing the framework in which businesses exist. It should be governments who are forcing businesses to behave in the best interests of their electorate. I leave it to you to decide whether my government, or yours, is doing this.

It's funny, I sometimes start writing these posts, sometimes to tease out my own ideas, without any particular known result. I find it easier, to set things out in print. Certainly on this one, I feel I can support the Extinction Rebellion, because businesses are not just making a buck, they are harming something in which we all have a vested interest.

More tea, vicar?

Only last week (but a few posts ago now) I wrote the post Connected, My experiments with home technology. A brief recao: I got one of these home hubs on offer (£25), thought "How far can I take this?" and found a smart ligbt bulb on Ebay (£10), got it working (i.e. controlled by my voice). Then I thought "How much further can I take this?" and botght a smart electric switch on eBay (another £10).

The switch arrived yesterday. It plugs into your normal, unadulterated, electrical wall socket, that you've been using these last forty or fifty years. This smart switch is itself a socket. Into it, you plug your very unsmart kettle, which you've been using these last forty or fifty years. The purpose of a smart socket? It acts as a switch between the wall and the kettle, but controlled over wi-fi. You tap an app on your phone, the switch turns on, the kettle boils. Tap it again, everything switches off.

The only real "smart" on my part was: when the light bulb arrived, it came with instructions to download an app to my phone (called Smart Life). This was part of the setting-up process. With only one device, it didn't much matter what that app was, other than the end result was that it could be connected to my Google account, controlled by my new Google Home Mini device, and my voice. It was clear, though, that this app could control many (hundreds, I think) devices if I set them up, so when I got the switch, I looked for one which could be controlled by the same app. I didn't want to have one app for my bedroom light, another for the switch, a third for some other light, and so on. So I looked on the web. This wasn't trivial, in that it took two or three hours, but hey, it was only looking at web pages. Eventually I found some switches (eBay again) which mentioned that they were controlled by this particular app.

They duly arrived yesterday, and because they were controlled by an app I had already set up, it took less than a minute. I set the switch up in the bedroom, where the wi-fi is signal nice and strong, and was duly able to turn the switch on and off from my phone. Because Smart Life was already linked to Google, with my voice too. I then moved the switch into the kitchen, where the wi-fi signal from that network is much weaker (I set up different wi-fi networks so that the whole house is covered, the kitchen it covered by a different network. I know I could improve this now, but at the time I set up the wireless networks, it was the best option).

Anyway, I plugged the kettle into the switch, and....hey presto!

So, this morning I was able to kick-start my first cup of tea by speaking to my hub, from in my bed. 'Course, I still had to pour the hot water into the cup myself.

With the light bulb, there is an element of it stopping me from banging into things in the dark, so I can argue a case for that. But with the switch, this is pure decadence, and really was an experiment, to see how far I could go. I am impressed that I've come this far, having not spent £50!

Saturday, 20 July 2019

No Tomorrow

Whenever we need some "proper" shopping, we head about 20 miles away to Southampton. It's a far better for shopping than nearby Salisbury.

My wife was looking for some new earphones today, so off we headed. A mediocre shopping list - return some clothing, look for the earphones, then go to the Decathlon for some tee-shirts to wear at the gym (her, not me!).

We went mid-morning, and by lunchtime we were done. Seeing as we were out, my wife suggested getting some lunch. Me being me, I agreed.

Most of our shopping had been done in a mall called West Quay, so we decided to lunch there. We found an American-styled burger place called Five Guys. I'd never heard of the place before, although from its web site, it looks like a US chain which has opened up in the UK. They had a decent-looking menu, and I decided to eat meat for the meal.

The order was a burger (wife) and a hot dog (me). We shared a portion of fries, and I had a milk shake and wife a fizzy drink.

Going through this one-by-one, both the burger and the dog came wrapped in foil. The fries came in a polystyrene cup. Wife's drink came in one of those paper-impregnated-with-plastic cups, and my drink came in a pure plastic cup, complete with plastic straw and lid. The drinks came immediately, but the food came all together, in a paper bag.

I suppose these guys deserve a round of applause for using paper bags, not plastic. But the goodness stops just about there. Foil is indeed recyclable (let's forget for a minute that re-using is preferable to re-cycling), except I saw people eat their burger, scrunch their foil wrappers into a ball, place back in the bag, then the bag scrunched up and put in their bin. So I wonder just how much of that foil gets recycled? A polystyrene cup, used once then also put into their trash. My drink - three pieces of plastic, used once then thrown away. Lastly, my wife's drink. In exactly the same kind of single-use cup that ethical coffee chains have refused to use.

The only area in which I have questions here is in how we encourage people to use resources more wisely. I don't like to run towards taxing everything to force people to change their habits, but taxing plastic bags certainly had the right effect. Maybe if cafes are forced to charge £50 for their foil-wrapped burgers, they'll think twice?

Thursday, 18 July 2019

Flexy Lexy

No, not a new position I just invented. I've been told that I am a flexitarian! A new word to me.

From Google: A semi-vegetarian diet (SVD), also called a flexitarian diet, is one that is plant-based or with the occasional inclusion of meat. In 2003, the American Dialect Society voted flexitarian as the year's most useful word.

I still eat meat a little. I had cod last night and a few nights ago, delicious ultra-thin pizza thing called a Flammenkuerche, something I first tried in Alsace and stocked by Lidl from time-to-time. Topped with cheese and ham. But you'd be surprised, a lot of things I eat are pure vegan.Tonight was tofu and vegetable rice. My aim when I became a "flexitarian" was no more than being conscious about how much meat I was eating, vith a view to eating less of it.


I want to give an indication of my eyesight. When I was first coming back afer my reboot, I got myself into an online Sudoku game, just to kickstart the sharpening process. I still play it from time-to-time, mostly when I'm lying in bed with my tablet.

I'm still good with numbers, but my eyes mean I have to look at them that tad longer, to see them properly. I guess this is a slowness I'm stuck with.

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Have I Got News For You

Well, no, actually, because I've stopped watching the UK political satire show Have I Got News For You.

It happened a few weeks ago, I wanted to let the dust settle, but still feel as strongly now.

The incident which precipitated my decision happened online, rather than on tv. They posted a photograph of the Tory leadership debate. At the time, Sajid Javid was one of the contenders. The photograph showed him sitting awkwardly on his stool. The caption read along the lines, "And you trust him to run the country?"

Here, I make the leap that running the country requires a degree of intelligence. It is a leap of faith, I know. But the point of the joke was to imply that somebody with this physical "foible" (beforehand, I never even knew there was a proper way to sit on a stool) he was unfit to do this intellectual task.

I'm afraid I thought of all the disabled people who have been told they are not fit to do a job because of their disability. Of all the black people who've been discriminated against, simply because of the colour of their skin. That they are disqualified from something, for reasons totally unrelated. That it is dressed up as satire does not make it right. This is real life, not satire. Past and present tense. These words harm real people.

So, I said something.

You should have seen the hatefulness of the responses! Because Javid wasn't disabled, attacking his physical characteristics was ok. Even if they were unrelated. (I have no idea whether Javid has some kind of disability or not, if he does, he certainly doesn't disclose it, but he might quite reasonably hold the view that it is nobody else's business).

Even that for finding this not-at-all-funny, I was an example of everything that was wrong with the country. I wonder how much charity work that guy did? how many people he helped each week? (Actually, I knw the answers to these without even asking, since nobody who does voluntary work would describe someone in such a way.) The comments reminded me, I'm afraid to say, of people who joyfully laughed at nig-nogs on Seventies UK TV, until society told them it was wrong. Wrong is wrong, something might be commonly acceptable, but that doesn't make it right.

There is another point, here. At what point does fun (satire, say. Sport is also a good example, I'm old enough to remember when we'd never play with the South Africans) stop, and you take the matter more seriously? I leave that one for you to ponder.


I've made a few, but then again...

I looked this morning at which of my posts have been most recently read by people, followed the link to the post itself. Almost immediately, I found a typo.

I do, of course, try not to make spelling mistakes in the first place. In fact, my spelling is good - very, very good - so if you see a typo it'll most likely be a slip of my finger, or tapping the keyboard too lightly to register a stroke (happens a lot). I run my potential posts through a spellchecker, of course, (every little helps!) but I often find myself falling into the trap of running the spellchecker, re-reading something, deciding it can be better-worded, re-writing it (complete with typo) and not re-checking. Another favourite is writing a typo such that it spells a perfectly good word, albeit the wrong word. That'll fool a spell-checker every time!

The reason, as you might guess, is stroke-related. Certainly a part of it is that, being one-handed, my one hand has to traverse the entire keyboard. So, especially writing key combinations, Shift + P for example, some agility is required. On the few times I've had to type them, the Euro symbol (on a UK keyboard, it is Ctrl + Shift + 4, I think) is a particular demon.

There's another factor too, though. Occasionally, my brain just says "Fed up working out which key to hit, so just hit the closest one". Of course, I know immediately that is a typo, so can correct it. Mostly. But it makes for slower typing. My foot does the same, not that I try typing with it! I will often end up standing on things, for no other reason than my brain says "Down. Now.". I suppose with my foot, balance comes into it as well. Unless I have two feet firmly on the ground, I am likely to topple. I might do that anyway. I like to think that any falls (i.e. onto the ground) are long behind me but I still need to be careful. I've been down a bit on soft grass, even once quite recently, just when the unevenness has tipped my balance as I put my foot down.

So please, if you see a typo in one of my posts, forgive me. If you let me know, I will correct it. When I spot it anyway, I will correct it. My friends tend to be very forgiving if they encounter one of my mistakes, but for me it is pure embarrassment, because I used to do so well. Bear in mind, too, that I'm not brilliant at spotting things these days, either.

Can't Win...

I did one of my voluntary gigs yesterday. We're very aware of fraud these days, and one of the clients mentioned that she'd had a phone call. She didn't recognise the number, so didn't answer. Exactly as I'd behave.

Only now, she's anxious in case the call was bona-fide, and she missed something important.

I certainly go by the mantra that if somebody wants something, and it is bona-fide, then they will leave a message on the machine. If they don't, the call is instantly forgotten. If it is important, they will invariably write anyway. Probably, you'd behave similarly. But it just goes to show how somebody from the previous generation might think. I'm sure that when we hear about people being scammed, a lot of it is because they're too caring.

Sunday, 14 July 2019


I measured my blood pressure this afternoon. I have this vague notion (aspirational, obviously!) that I measure my blood pressure every month or so, but I'm also aware that I haven't measured it for a few months.

Looking at my database, 28th February! Over four months! I must be more disciplined in future. Fortunately at the end of it all, the measurement itself was ok, 137/80 in the "good" arm and 133/80 in the stroke-affected arm. I have been told that for stroke survivors the numbers of the affected side can often be different to the unaffected side. I've known this since in hospital, all that time ago, but never explored it. For the next few readings, I need to measure both arms to see if I can tease out a relationship between the values. I'm pretty sure that what I saw from these measurements can easily be explained by the accuracy of the machine itself.

As you can imagine, trying to put a cuff onto my "good" upper arm either requires someone else to help, or contortion and teeth! So it'd be a lot easier if I can measure the bad arm instead.


I'm glad in some ways that, these days, I tend to half-listen to things. Sure, I don't always hear the detail of what people say, but in other ways, gives good feedback. Two examples this morning:

A couple of hours ago I watched something on the BBC's iPlayer, a programme on the BBC News Channel the other night, Andrew Neil interviewing the two Tory leadership contenders. He interviewed Jeremy Hunt first, who was very unconvincing, and by the time Boris Johnson came on, I was doing other things. So, not watching the images, but listening nevertheless. I became aware that there were many times where both interviewer and interviewee were just talking over each other. I mean, I suppose you could blame one guy as much as the other, but in Johnson's case, the one thing he didn't really do was to promote himself. Rather that aa articulate, crystal-clear vision, a half-hour just of bickering.

I have to say, I don't really feel it is appropriate to get too involved in commenting about the Tory leadership contest, not least because I have never even been a Tory supporter. So, both candidates are pretty unsatisfactory to me, Hunt for what he says and Johnson not just for that, but for how he presents it.

Second, was just watching one of these faith programmes on tv. Half-watching, doing other stuff. It's a faith-based discussion programme. A small panel of people, two presenters plus two guests, discussing one or two topical issues. I have no idea who the guests are, but I'm suddenly aware that one of them, her voice is dominating what should be a four-way conversation. So, without really listening to any of the detail, I'm aware that here is somebody who doesn't necessarily talk sense, but who will browbeat. I'm not even sure what her point of view was.

It's funny, isn't it? Before somebody gets up and says whatever they've got to say, there's first an issue of their credibility. Of course, the true measure of somebody is what they say (and do), but we can't resist forming a kind-of sneak preview with our minds.

Friday, 12 July 2019


I went to university in Cardiff. Looking back, an ideal city in which to study. I loved the place, probably less than 30 minutes' walk from the city centre, wherever I lived (Roath, mainly), and studied in a leafy area adjoining the centre.

I suppose I had my fair share of ups and downs. My first time away from home, my first loves... Academically I did quite well in the end (BSc Physics), despite my poor attendance in the second year. I worked in the main university building, a beautiful Victorian construction, and very grand.

I liked Cardiff so much that I didn't want to leave. But, in a way, I didn't have to make a clean break. In my final year I dated a girl who was at a different stage of a different course. She didn't finish until the year after me, so I went back quite regularly. But Cardiff was different. Every street, so-and-so used to live there. Used to. So, the place became quite melancholic. In the end, the girlfriend finished her course, and enrolled on another in London, so my visits to Cardiff became rarer, although I still had friends who worked at the uni. In any case, the girlfriend and I split up a few months later.

In the years immediately after I graduated, I had a job in Oxford. A couple of hours away, so allowed me the occasional day trip.However work started becoming busier, I started travelling on business, so visits dried up.

Fast forward a few years, it was the late nineties. I had been to the USA and had come back. I now lived in Southampton, too far for day trips, although I did take my girlfriend (now my wife) there for the weekend for a glimpse of my past. And, we've been back several times since. Even with daughter, we took her to see the place too. It helped that Doctor Who, and, later, Torchwood, were filmed there, as my wife loves her sci-fi. It also gave us a chance to see how the docks area had been redeveloped - in my day, it was a no-go area. Now, it was full of daleks!

I think the last time we went, our visit even clashed with a Wales rugby match. Really, to visit Cardiff on a match day can't be beaten, although I never got into the sport itself despite my fanatical Welsh friends.

I have so many good memories of Cardiff, and, in fact, my first visit to Salisbury is linked. Jo and I would get on the train for a change of scenery, and found both Salisbury and nearby Bournemouth for day trips. Little did I know I would end up here.

Thursday, 11 July 2019


Google have an offer on at the moment. A Home Mini device for your home. One of these things that just sits in the room, waiting to do something until you speak some command to it.. It was £25, I like tech, so I thought, why not?

It arrived yesterday and was quite painless to set up. On its own, however, it'll tell me what time it is or what the weather is like - things I can do myself anyway. More interesting, it can control things like lights, with the necessary hardware. Okay, I can control the lights myself too just by walking over to the switch, but I was thinking particularly about when I have to get up at night, in the dark, and have to navigate to the light switch before I do anything. I rely a lot on my sight these days (patchy though it is) and am pretty wobbly (more wobbly!) in the dark.

So I started off knowing nothing, and contacted one of these Internet light shops just to ask "what would I need to buy in order to get something going that I could control with my voice?" The answer came back that it would cost £200. In benefits speak, two weeks salary. To buy something to replace something which already works. So I immediately said "no, thanks".

I noticed though that each of this guys quotes included another bit of hardware, a hub. But didn't I have that already? the Home Mini?

There then followed a few hours of trying to understand the technology. Web sites were almost universally poor - I found several articles entitled "why you need a hub". Great, exactly what I was looking for. But what was the one question they didn't answer?

Anyway, I found a few blogs on the subject, and they eventually led me to the discovery that, yes, some of these products do require a separate hub, a special switch etc. (probably the better ones), but that others don't. Some solutions got by with existing infrastructure, and a "smart" light bulb. Most of these, though, still required a hub, but a few didn't. Those that didn't seemed to specifically say that they were Wi-fi, plus I discovered that these hubs seemed to plug right into your network. So, it would seem that Home Mini just speaks to google.com, via your home's Wi-fi, and, from there, Google speaks out to the hub (wi-fi again) and lastly the hub speaks to the bulb, which can be any wireless technology you like. It was starting to make sense - bulbs which specifically talked in Wi-fi would have no need for this box in between, they could talk directly to Google. Alongside of this, prices came tumbling down. From £200 to £10!

Don't get me wrong, I can see the value in having a layer of abstraction in there to make the bulb independent of the internet. I spent my life building abstractions for clients, to have many components which each did one thing. But when you're on a budget... Plus, if the internet goes down, most likely we have a power cut, so everything is buggered anyway.

So feeling pleased with myself I have ordered my £10 light bulb from eBay. But it set me thinking, what else can I do with this thing?

One of the other obvious things is that these things can play music. Great, but these streaming services typically cost £10/month. Especially when I already own 90% of the music I will listen to, why would I even want to pay a penny? I mean, I tend not to buy music any more, but over the years I must've accumulated something approaching 200 GB of music! Especially when my format of choice is FLAC, the highest-quality format, and therefore the biggest size.

Some of these services do offer free versions, however. They'll get you started, but they're restricted. However, a bit of Googling told me that I can create a playlist within Google Play Music, and that I can upload some of my existing tracks to it. Presumably there'll be space issues if I load too much. But from there, I can instruct the Home Mini to play these playlists. It's still restricted, pretty much the only options I have are stop, go and skip, but at least my music, just my music, and free. It does beg the question of why I need to pay extra (i.e. on top of the box itself) in order to listen, without restriction, to music I already own a license for, but there we go.

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Downton Abbey

It's funny. I knw myself well enough these days to know that I don't particularly follow the crowd. My tastes are quite unique.

On serious matters, on something like politics, my priorities, and therefore my views, are not common. Indeed, I was surprised to find, when I looked at some online politics groups, to find some people who did agree with me. On certain issues, anyway.

On lighter things, take television. A lot of programmes I've simply never seen. The Saturday night "make an unknown person a star" shows, for example. I see these for what they are - cheap, low-quality tv. Another popular show in the UK is The Apprentice. I think I watched the first season for novelty value, but stopped, ironically as it grew in fame. I've probably posted about that show before, but my objections to that show are quite serious. The premise that the bottom line is the beginning and end of everything offends me. Money is one commodity, sure, but there are others.

On the subjet of tv, the other day I watched a re-run of the first few episodes of Downton Abbey. I think this aired for the first time around 2010-2015, but missed me completely. I suppose, at that time of my life, I started off in London, had two years sorting out my parents' estates, then spent the last few years trying to get the "bicycle mechanic" thing to fly. So I guess I was quite busy.

I mean, I'd certainly heard of it, I knew it was a massive production, but still never watched. But having taken the opportunity second-time around, I'm impressed. Of course this upstairs/downstairs thing is absolutenonsense, but I suppose a fairly accurate portrayal of the time. On the strngth of these episodes I've just ordered the box-set of every episode, and, really, you can count in years when I last bought a dvd.

So yeah, a promising start. Let's hope that the other fifty-odd episodes live up to the standard.

Oh, and note to readers - there isn't really an abbey (or anything remotely similar) in Downton! The outdoor shots were filmed at a place not a million miles away called Highclere Castle, although the story is entirely fictional, set up in Yorkshire.

Monday, 8 July 2019

Facts and Figures

I have posted various one- or two-liners about stroke and the health service, but thought I should probably be a bit more detailed.

Firstly, somebody having a stroke has almost a 90% chance of survival (i.e. surviving more than thirty days after a stroke), so there are lots of us about the place. According to the Stroke Association, there are more than 100,000 strokes in the UK every year, and around 2 million stroke survivors in total. Think about that statistic for a moment. 2 million. The UK has a population of 60-odd million, so that's one every thirty of us. Stretching that somewhat, this means that when you see a football match on television, there might be a thousand stroke survivors in the crowd. But that would mean a uniform distribution of stroke survivors in the population, personally I don't know any survivor who gives a hoot about football!

I know that for me, the physiotherapy I received in hospital was brilliant. In contrast, condultants (the top doctors) were irrelevant and the quality of the general nursing variable - literally from very good to very bad. For me, hospital ended pretty much as soon as I was on my feet again, although I came home in a chair and was very unsteady at first. And there the help stopped. Unfortunately, I'm judging the whole package - acute care plus the rehabillitation afterwards - so my overall verdict is "poor". I've heard the same verdict many times over, although my knowledge apart from my personal knowledge, is anecdotal. I have also heard some good-news stories, somebody receiving appropriate treatment a matter of minutes after having had a stroke, or having a really high level of rehabillitation, so I think treatment could best be described as patchy. I think when you talk about a stroke strategy, the very first goal must be universality.

Going on to disabilities, although most people will survive, almost 2/3 of survivors will leave hospital with some kind of disability. In that respect, I am absolutely common! The current disability benefit, PIP, then comes into play. It is a points system - I get points for not being able to use my arm. I get some points for not being able to walk far because of my stamina and my dodgy leg, but not enough to affect my overall result. If my arm were OK, I wouldn't get the benefit at all. I was quite surprised at how little the benefit was. To give a point of reference, my weekly benefit used to take me about an hour to earn when I was at the height of my career. I think this is entirely deliberate - disabled people are not high enough on the radar to matter, because he who shouts loudest gets the most attention. The level of care after a stroke, and of benefits, leaves me in absolutely no doubt that, if you have a stroke, the state just expects you to die. My benefit has reduced since the stroke, just because I'm getting better, walking further etc. In principle this is fair enough, because I need less help than I did, although my expenses haven't really changed. If anything, they increased once I was able just to leave the house.

There's another side to this too. I've been strong enough to go back to work for some time, but not really to travel up to London on top of everything else. So, I'm constrained to looking locally, which reduces the number of opportunities considerably. And, where I used to be able to walk into the top City banks and not only get a job, but be well thought of by my co-workers, I now can't even get an interview with local employers. I can consteuct all sorts of reasoning in my head to explain this - that my experience was so specialised that local employers feel intimidated by my cv - but really, at that point, I'm just playing mind games with myself. The Stroke Association again provide some estimates here to help. If the likelihood of an able-bodied person being out of work for eight years is X, then the probability of a stroke survivor still being unemployed eight years after their stroke is 2 or 3 X. Personally, I still keep an eye out still, but I busy myself writing my own software from home - keeps my brain active and might actually help people. I'm fortunate enough to still have a small amount of savings tucked away, and have the knowledge to kick off a project from start to finish just by virtue of my experience being my own boss.

As if getting back into work isn't hard enough, I spoke to one woman once who had been made to sit on her own, away from everyone else, just in case somebody "caught" her stroke! Not a word of a lie, this is people's intelligence. The last I heard, her union was acting on her behalf.

Please, in writing this, the last thing I want is sympathy, I just wanted to give an insight.

Sunday, 7 July 2019

Doomed to Depression

I mentioned the other day about my mother. It's funny, because I often think that my mum's generation will turn out to be the most "have it all" generation in human history. There's a balance between the advances of civilisation, and trying not to screw the environment. My mum enjoyed much of the former, but probably worried very little about the latter.

To a cerain extent, I could probably count my own generation as right up there. One could argue that I'm in that category too, but  I'm not sure my daughter's generation will be exempt. I'm certainly aware of my footprint, but a lot of other people don't share my concerns.

We went to Starbucks today, that emblem of the throwaway society, and you can see that they're using plastic like it's going out of fashion. Well, it is, I suppose. If I go there, I'll only ever have a hot coffee, no matter what the weather, to drink in. The reasons? Because takeaway drinks are served in single-use paper/plastic cups, and all of their iceddrinks seem to come in plastic cups (despite photos above the counter showing the contrary). At least with mine, they wash it (let's not mention for today how detergents also pollute) and somebody else uses that same cup. Even when people big-up recycling, to recycle something is only ever second-best, because re-use is what we really want.

Even my attempts to be frugal came short, though. For one thing, I had a bap - which came with a plastic knife that I didn't ask for or use, and which probably got chucked out, still unused, after I left. Not even single-use plastic, but zero-use plastic! And, even my wife commented on how chilly the place was. It was quite humid today but not overly oppressive, although obviously Starbucks' aircon was in overdrive.

I find it all very depressing. I consciously don't eat much meat - very little these days - just on the grounds that it takes so many resources to grow a cow. I consciously don't fly, because it's unnecessary. I poo-poo my wife's plans to go away somewhere warm in the middle of winter, for that reason. I'm aware that I could go even further, but we all have our limits. But at the same time as I'm trying to do my bit, other people don't give a shit.

I must admit that I have become an awful lot grumpier as I've gotten older. The more I see of the world, the more it disappoints me. I see politicians lie about important things - to me that's enough to kick them out there and then but other people vote them back in. I saw the NHS for myself and it was pretty shit. yet people wave flags to indicate how good they think it is. I see how few people get involved in charity work to help others, and how nobody would even dream of giving up their seat on the bus for me, despite my disabilities. And I generally see other people trying to undo all the effort I'm trying to put in. It's depressing because the older I get, the more things I see that we really could do with changing. And one kind-of concludes that this must be true for anybody who thinks about the big picture, anyone who has a view on how the world should be. Whatever their politics. Dissatisfaction. And just as I am depressed that I live in a world where nobody gives a shit, so somebody like Margaret Thatcher would have been disappointed at not being able to turn society more into her vision. Finally worked out something we have in common! But anyone who cares, we're all doomed to depression in our old age.

Friday, 5 July 2019

Work Progress

It's funny, my web application (under development) stopped working yesterday. I was just about to look at a new library called SignalR. Normally, a browser requests a page, and the server serves a page. End of. This technology allows the server to keep sending updates to the browser. It's possible to spoof this using older technologies, but... I want to use current.

I took the chance to upgrade a few bits and pieces, and this was what did for me. The application uses something called Bootstrap (makes the display fit automatically when it comes to computers, tablets, phones etc.) and I suspected this immediately. In the end, I built a "template" app, and compared the two side-by-side. The first place I looked was my code - I thought I might have edited out a crucial line, say, and I never was infallible, even before! - but I couldn't find anything.

The browser I use has a bunch on debugging tools, one of which tells you exactly what files are loaded underneath a button. Not just the (html) page itself, but and images, style sheets, or any other bits of code. I made sure I loaded each file fresh every time (browsers will normally store things in a cache) and noticed that the Bootstrap files were different to each other. So, I took the files that worked, and copied them to the site that didn't work....and hey, presto!

I've tried to be brief in my description, but rest assured that this hunting has probably cost me a day, just as I figured out what to do next.

Something in my housekeeping one of the things I updated was Bootstrap, although I just glanced past it. I didn't think that this widely-used commercial product would cause me problems, but it did. Having said that, I'm sure it was tested very thoroughly, and I'm sure it's just me that needs to tweak my code somehow - they must've made a subtle change. A task for later on in the project, perhaps?

Sure enough, I must've started off on version 3 point something, and hit the button to upgrade to version 4 point something. I support as you go through a major release, you should expect changes. Regressed it back, anyway, for now, and am now good to go.

Wednesday, 3 July 2019


July 2nd.

World UFO Day!

It also happened to be my mum's birthday - she would've been 75, had she lived - and of my parents' wedding anniversary (53 years).

Monday, 1 July 2019


It's funny, I happened to be looking at social media last night and saw that somebody had posted about Brexit...again. I for one think that everything to say has already been said, many times over. So much so that I'm in two minds whether to post this. I glossed over the post, but it was vaguely along the lines that Brexit was a bad idea.

Makes me chuckle a bit because surely the time to present such arguments was before the referendum? We subsequently had the referendum, and people made a decision, whether good or bad. So I think that ship has sailed.

I'm always left wondering what the point of these posts are, and whether people have properly thought things though. Are they just to stop Brexit? So, people have specifically voted for X, and in response they get Not X. A bit of a paradox, no? Indeed, we've seen this already with several political parties wanting to ignore the result of one vote, but at the same time saying "vote for us" in the next. I include the Liberals and, I'm afraid, the Greens, in this category. So, in their great wisdom, they've decided that one vote should be ignored, but the other not. That one vote is valid, but the other not. Especially if you're a political party, you should really think long and hard when you decide to pick and choose which decisions you'll observe.

I think that there's a clear principle here, that if people decide something, then the establishment has to carry it out. That's really the crux of the matter - that one vote is equally as valid or as invalid as the next, regardless of subject matter. I deliberately use the word "establishment" rather than "government", although in the case of the EU referendum it happened to be the government. But it applies in General Elections too, where we're talking about changing governments themselves.

The consequence is simple. If you ignore the last vote, why should anybody trust you to uphold the result of the next?