Category Archives: modern life

Real Men don’t use Switches

My computer has several idiosyncrasies, such as a missing On/Off switch, several pieces of missing software and a habit of randomly refusing to start. The switch was originally faulty rather than  missing, but where a faulty switch refuses to start the computer, a missing switch allows me to touch two wires together and get it going.

A faulty switch is a nuisance, but a missing switch is merely a cosmetic issue.

I’m not sure what happened to the software, but several years ago I started getting notices that things weren’t installing themselves on start-up. I tried reinstalling them and I tried letting the computer correct the fault. Neither approach worked. Now I just keep cancelling the attempts to reinstall and after thirty seconds of button pushing everything seems to work and the only fault is with some photo software. As the average computer seems to have several ways of coping with photos, this isn’t a problem.

Which gets us to the real point of this post. The computer refused to start tonight. It sat there on the table when I returned home and whirred into action when I hot-wired it, but there was little action. The green light on the DVD player flashed and the blue light by the main switch (or the space where it used to be) came on. There was even a gentle buzz, but the main flashing blue light and the expected sound of internal arrangements sliding into place were noticeably absent.

I administered a sharp tap to the casing, which always seems like it should work. It didn’t. Then I hit it with a book. Don’t judge me, I grew up when electrical goods were different.

Finally I switched it off and started again. How, you ask, as I have no switch and the computer wasn’t working enough to allow me to close down normally. Well, that’s where the power cord comes in. Or more accurately, gets unplugged.

It’s not quite as sophisticated as a switch, but it does stop the flow of electricity. There is the occasional crackle, suggesting that the power might be about to flow somewhere unwelcome but it hasn’t happened yet and if it does it might solve the atrial fibrillation so it’s not all bad.

When I plugged it back in it started at once and gave me the choice of starting normally or (the recommended method) letting the computer have a shot at fixing itself.

I tried the latter method and you know what? It just kept going and grunting and churning and telling me this could take several minutes and…eventually…repeating itself and not starting.

So I pulled the power cable again, started it up again, told it to start itself normally and a couple of minutes later I was in. That’s why I’m now able to write about the shortcomings of my computer and my troubles with technology.

We never had all these problems when TV was black and white and phones were attached to the wall.

The photo shows what happened in the shop a few weeks ago – leaving us staring at blue screens for ten minutes.

And so it starts…

We’re both off work now and Julia has gone shopping for the bits she forgot to tell me to add to the list yesterday.

Good luck to any of my readers in a similar position – I had to try two supermarkets yesterday before I could find a parking space. Hopefully it will be quieter today, though there may not be any food left.

Happy Christmas – I’ve been a bit erratic with my Christmas Greetings, so will put it here so nobody is left out.

Now, fuelled by porridge, I am off to get her engagement ring from the jewellers. She insists on wearing it for work and finally managed to lose a diamond.  A new diamond and re-tipping all the claws is coming in at £150, which is nearly as much as the ring cost originally.

It wasn’t an overly expensive ring, as my mother told me several times But as I said, expensive rings are for love-struck teenagers and millionaires. I’m a practical man, and got her to pay half, so it was quite economical. Now that we’ve been married for thirty years hindsight indicates I could have spent more, but you never know at the time…

Went for a blood test this morning, was second in the queue and, when I tried to get out of the car park, used the wrong ticket. The one for the car park was in my shirt pocket but the one I tried to use was on the passenger seat and turned out to be ineffective. Oh, how I laughed after three abortive attempts to leave the car park.

New Year Resolution – clean the car out!

 

Edit: when I said “short” pocket I meant “shirt” pocket. I don’t wear shorts, particularly in winter.

 

Off to the Dentist

The day has come, and I’m in the space only known to people with important appointments. It’s that gap of about an hour where it’s too soon to set off and there doesn’t seem enough time to do anything useful.

It’s the last day for second class post in the UK, and I have cards to send, but I can’t concentrate. There isn’t even time for a decent post.

I’ve been told to eat before going, which isn’t normally a problem, but today I don’t feel hungry.

Today I have a painful appointment with the dentist and come face to face with mortlity.

The wisdom tooth I had taken out twenty years ago was a routine thing, lots of people have that done.

The one I lost last year had been giving trouble for over 30 years and finally disintegrated under pressure from a Mint Imperial, so it worried me, but not too much.

Today I am losing an adult tooth to decay. Memories of my parents telling me to brush properly are coming back to haunt me. It’s neglect and old age and death rolled into one and I can feel one of my feet sinking into the grave.

I’m half expecting the dentist to wear a shroud and hack the tooth out with his scythe.

Ah well, time to go now…

Christmas and Humbuggery…

Pre-dawn on Sunday found me, as usual, sitting in a car park waiting for Number Two Son to finish work. When he’s off in Canada squandering his cash on Youth Hostels and check shirts it will all seem worthwhile.

For the seconf week in a row the Pied Wagtails didn’t appear. Like all sensible beings they are obviously keen on sleeping until the last possible moment.

You see some interesting vans, but is that a spelling mistake? Oh yes, it is.

You see some interesting vans, but is that a spelling mistake? Oh yes, it is

By this time I had already been lost in Nottingham doing Julia a favour (giving one of her workmates a lift to work) because if you are getting up at 5am why not make it 4.45 so you can really deprive yourself of sleep? Sat Navs are OK, but in an unlit street in the pitch black of a winter morning it can be quite tricky being told you are there when you aren’t. My fault, I should have used the address instead of the postcode. Or I should have used a map and torch – they worked for years before we had satnavs.

At the moment I miss the sunrise, for photographic purposes, as we’re driving back as it takes hold. I’m hoping for better things in a month or so, when I may be able to get a few shots from the car park or somewhere similar.

Castle Donnington Services - a hint of dawn as exaggerated by the camera

Castle Donnington Services – a hint of dawn as exaggerated by the camera

As we drove home down a parking deprived stretch of dual carriageway we had the sight of the sky to our right coming to life with salmon pink light, silhouettes of trees and pylons, and breathtaking cloudscapes.

To our left the power station gleamed in shades of grey and silver against a backdrop of night sky.

We seemed to be driving down the junction of day and night.

Very strange, very memorable and very frustrating I couldn’t photograph it.

It was also very tempting to use words like cupola, but I didn’t. Some words are best left to Victorian poets and architects.

The rest of my day so far has consisted of reading WordPress, washing up and procrastinating.  But mainly I have been avoiding thoughts of Christmas.

All that time, all that money and all that hope squandered on a couple of days that will do nothing to help refugees, global warming or my knees.

Scrooge, you say?

Bah! Humbug!

On a lighter note, I just did an internet-based quiz to check on my actual mental age, and find that due to my cautious optimism, life experience and forward-looking attitude I am a “Young Adult”. This, I feel, says more about internet-based quizzes and self-deception than it does about my mental age.

A Short Note on Difficult Customers

Sometimes on eBay you run up against an immovable object. With over a thousand items listed for sale at any time we are obviously going to make mistakes. In nine months we’ve sent the wrong item twice and had one complaint about quality. That’s less than quarter of a per cent.

We now have another complaint. With hindsight we should have expected it as the buyer asked for a discount before buying. We politely declined but he ordered anyway. We then had a letter of complaint telling us this was the worst lot he’d ever bought and various other things.

We offered him his money back.

He’s just replied that we’ve missed the point. He doesn’t want to send them back for a refund, he wants to struggle selling them and moan that the charity he sells for will lose money. He’s very keen to tell you he sells for charity.

There’s not much you can do to help some people.

Cynicism prompts me to suggest that his next note will contain a threat about negative feedback and another suggestion about discount. After all, he does sell for charity you know…

Seems Like Monday Morning

It’s dark, it’s cold and enthusiasm is low…

There is more than a hint of Monday morning about the place despite it being Wednesday and on TV there is little to brighten the day.

Politicians are talking about Brexit.

The McCann case has been given another £150,000 to pay for detectives. The total cost for police time is now, it seems, £11.75 million. I think it’s now time to redirect resources.

England is doing badly at cricket at the moment, though this isn’t too unusual.

And then we have the 70th birthday of the Prince of Wales. I’m not sure whether I approve of royalty or not. I do, however, know that some of his favourite foods are pheasant crumble and groussaka (moussaka with grouse). 

This is typed using the new WP editor. I never really mastered the old one, so let’s see what sort of a mess I make of it now.

And it’s not even 9.00 am yet…

What Annoyed Me Today?

There have been four things that annoyed me today, but the new mellow me has ignored two of them and laughed at another.

There’s very little I can do about them so why bother worrying?

The only one that still annoys me is the man I saw whilst shopping this afternoon. A shopping bag had dropped off a display and instead of moving it or replacing it on the display he simply trod on it and walked on.

It’s not a good way to behave, particularly as he had a small child with him. When you wonder where the bad citizens of tomorrow come from, with no manners, no respect and no idea of helping others, I suggest that this might be a clue.

Only a short post for today. Julia has had a day off – she’s made stew and dumplings with apple crumble to follow and I want to give that my full attention now.

 

 

 

 

 

Just when you thought it couldn’t get worse…

I unlocked, turned off the alarm and went through to the back room to switch on the lights and computers…

Nothing.

A lot of the sockets were dead and a look at the fuseboard showed one of the two power circuits had tripped. We couldn’t reset it but we did manage to arrange a couple of extension leads to run the phones, a computer and the credit card machine.

It’s likely that the heavy rain has been getting in again. The electrician is coming on Monday and we will find out then.

Apart from that, my watch broke. Just as I found the power was out one of the spring-loaded bars in my watch strap broke and the watch fell off.

It never rains but it pours…

That may not be an appropriate expression if it turns out to be an electrical fault caused by water. I have had experience of that before and ended up with a surprise and a sooty burn mark on my hand.

In the evening I went to collect my tablets, using the prescription I picked up yesterday. I noticed, when reading the prescription, that I have the normal slew of threatening messages about reviews and appointments and, this time, a demand that I book an appointment for epilepsy screening.

This is why I don’t normally bother reading notes and letters from the doctor – I’m now worried what they know that I don’t.

 

 

I get organised, and get punished for it

Tonight, in an organised fashion, I called at the surgery on my way home. It seemed to be a popular time as several other people arrived at the same time. One beat me to the desk and queued behind the woman who was already there.

One didn’t quite beat me to the desk but I held the door and let her go ahead. Before you start criticising me for chavinism reflect on this – I didn’t hold the door because she was a weak and feeble woman: I held the door because my parents brought me up to have good manners.

So, there I was, fourth in the queue. The first woman was one of those people who take a long time over everything, can’t take no for an answer and have no awareness of how many people are queueing behind them thinking of violence.

The second person was unremarkable and finished her enquiry in a couple of minutes.

The third person, the woman I’d held the door for, spent the entire wait hacking and coughing without bothering to cover her mouth. I presume her parents had never told her that coughs and sneezes spread diseases. Fortunately, because I’d let her go first, she was doing it over the people in front. Virtue, as they say, is its own reward.

Eventually I arrived at the front of the line. I picked up my prescription with no problem. The blood test form, however, was another thing altogether. It turned out that there were two of them. One is for blood. This good as the arrangement is that I am having extra samples taken next time I visit phlebotomy.

The other is not for blood. Somehow my agreement to two blood tests on the same day has mutated into a blood test with accompanying urine test. As I can’t see phlebotomy being ecstatic at being presented with a urine sample I suppose I’ll have to go back to the surgery, meaning that doubling up the blood test is saving no time or effort.

I mentioned this to the receptionist, who instantly became blank-faced and started up the Nuremberg Defence. I swear they have a special training school for doctors’ receptionists.

I’m thinking of what I can put in my urine sample to give them a hilarious surprise…

 

The Downward Trend Continues

Since I last wrote of my dull day things have showed little improvement. Nothing interesting has sold, nothing interesting has been loaded on eBay and nothing interesting has happened.

I say “nothing interesting” but had better qualify that. Nothing good and interesting has happened. I removed one of my dental crowns whilst chewing a caramel, which was interesting, particularly as I have a history of swallowing them.

I’ve wedged it back in for the moment as my six-monthly check up is due in a couple of weeks and I’m hoping to avoid a special trip to the dentist. It’s only come out twice since then, one of them being when I flicked it out with a toothpick.

Then there was the car insurance – it’s gone up by 15% so far and we haven’t even discussed my unfortunate brush with the speed camera. Someone is taking the mickey.

This morning I woke and as I sat on the edge of the bed I noticed blood dripping onto my legs. It was a bit of a surprise at the time but I have a history of nosebleeds so I’m not unduly worried. The main problem is getting the blood out of the pillowcase. (You may want to bookmark this page under “Famous Last Words” in case I’m wrong).

Minutes later things took a turn for the worse when I was informed that Julia was ill. She did this by groaning dramatically, making a sweeping arm gesture and croaking “I’m ill.”

She slept all day and has consistently refused food so it’s quite serious. I hope she gets well soon because I had to make my own sandwiches this morning.

Finally, I had a rejection on my last haiku submission. That was depressing for about twenty minutes, but after that I had plenty to do and forgot about it until now. I’m having a think now, not sure whether it’s part of the downward trend or something I should zone out.

According to my current thought process every rejection brings an acceptance one step nearer, so a rejection is actually a good thing.