Tag Archives: masks

Study Number 1 - The Idiot

Tuesday Morning

Today, as ever, started with the death of a good intention. I meant to get home and start decluttering before writing, but in the end I went to sit in the back room of a shop and drink tea.

It was relaxing, but not productive.

I then went shopping, even though we are supposed to be doing it by internet. We have somehow run out of bread again so I thought I’d get some in and buy a few extra bits we could do with.

I’ve had a problem with my stomach recently, lasting two weeks. It wasn’t quite Irritable Bowel because I didn’t have my normal stomach cramps, and it doesn’t seem to be cancer as I checked my output and it all seemed normal. In fact, it was quite impressive (thanks to my high fibre diet). Julia has told me not everyone wants to know this, so I will leave it. there. I will, however, assure you that I checked seriously and was not just going through the motions.

Those of you from overseas, who are wondering about that slightly out of place last sentence may want to check this dictionary entry as I fear it is only a pun in English, and even then only for people with school boy humour (or me and Derrick, if you really want to narrow it down). Possibly Charlie and Tootlepedal, but they, having been teachers, are probably on a higher plane than that.

It seems not to be the methotrexate either, as, after the first few weeks this does not seem to cause any reaction at all.

I’m trying to cut out the cheese sandwiches at lunchtime, as cheese and milk sometimes trigger the IBS. There is a pan of carrot and parsnip soup on the hob at the moment because, although I am back to normal I need to lose weight and be kind to my stomach. I will have it with a ham sandwich. In my book, there is little I could do to improve on that.  I’m going to follow up with some yoghurt which I also bought today – time to work on my digestion.

So far, so good, though this is borrowed time and we must soon go back to proper working hours. The days I work are now getting longer and Julia is back on public transport most days. I’m not happy about that, and she isn’t happy about the number of people not wearing masks, but there’s nothing you can do. You can’t challenge people because this is viewed as discrimination. You can’t ask for proof. You just have to sit there and out up with their germs.

It’s a shame that the non-mask-wearing idiots who pretend to be disabled can’t all be struck down by Covid. Instead, ironically, they will be the ones likely to survive and infect others.

Saturday Morning

If anyone reading this is using the Classic Editor plug-in do you have the same problem as me? I start typing the title and when I look up only half of it is there. I even waited until it had settled down this morning, ensured that the word Saturday was in place, put my head down and carried on typing. When I finished all I had left was  “rning”. The rest had, yet again, disappeared.

It’s one of several matters of minor concern that slip through the cracks of the blog each week, being irritating but not life-threatening.

Another is lockdown. It’s not really lockdown these days as we are moving out of it, and it has receded into the background. There are still lockdown stories on TV, some being quite serious, but it’s just background noise.

Julia used the bus for the first time since March last night. I’m now working until 4.00 on Fridays so it isn’t practical for me to give her a lift now.. She said there were four people on the lower deck of the bus (out of about a dozen passengers) who weren’t wearing masks. As none of them had obvious wounds on their heads, they all had two ears and nobody was gasping for breath, it’s hard to see why they weren’t wearing masks. They were probably special advisors to the Tory party, and we all know that they don’t need to stick to the rules. Not that it’s just Tories, the Labour Party has its fair share of idiots too.

That’s taken me over the 250 words I set as my minimum word count, and it’s covered a few things that weren’t on my mind when I switched on this morning.

I was going to write about things falling through the cracks and cover the question of the inefficient pharmacy (again) and my stiff fingers, which are pain free but made hard work of some medal mounting I had to do yesterday.

It’s amazing where a twenty minute blogging journey will take you.

Mine is going to end up by taking me to work, but I thought I’d write a post before leaving (a) because I had time and (b) because I may well spend most of the evening asleep. I’ve been staying up too late and it’s beginning to catch up with me.

I’m studying hard to become a polymath (there must be as joke about a parrot with a superior grasp of arithmetic in there somewhere) and all that knowledge won’t just deliver itself. However, I’m not sure sitting up late and then sleeping most of the next evening is the way to go.

I’m using an old stock photo because when I tried to download an appropriate photo the system froze. It seems to do this now I’m using the plug-in. It took me nine minutes to regain use of the frozen computer and I’m still using an old photo. At this time of day I don’t have nine minutes to waste. In fact I don’t have nine minutes to sit in front of a grinding and useless computer at any time. This only started happening when I had to transfer to the plug-in.

This was meant to be a quick blog post, but it’s actually taken eighteen minutes to write and fifteen to insert one old photo. I hope the rest of the day improves.

From Here to Modernity

A quick view of my day with lockdown observations.

I spent the early hours of the morning struggling with a blog post which I want to write, but which I can’t get right. I had already abandoned one yesterday and though I did manage to post, it was not about the things that were on my mind.

After no more than five hours I rose when the alarm went, made sandwiches, had breakfast and went to the Treatment Centre at Queen’s Medical Centre. Yes, time for a blood test. Parking was tight, as I didn’t get down until 9 am so I parked in a bay reserved for disabled parking. I don’t actually have a blue badge but I do have a walking stick and my knee was playing up. I was wrong, but I’m gradually becoming more selfish in my behaviour as I realise that being considerate just means that you are use as a stepping stone by the greedy self-centred people who actually run the country.

They now want all NHS staff to wear masks when dealing with the public and all members of the public to wear masks in hospitals. I took one with me just in case. I wasn’t asked to put a mask on when I arrived and I noticed that the receptionists and other staff weren’t wearing them. I checked later and this will all happen on June 15th, so they aren’t actually compulsory yet.

The phlebotomist had several attempts on my arms – one in the right, two in the left. She didn’t use the method I suggested, and decided to call a colleague in. There was nothing wrong with her technique but she just couldn’t get it right. I’m not a qualified phlebotomist, but as you may have noted, after the number of blood tests I’ve had I have picked up quite a lot of knowledge whilst being stabbed in the arm.

I was sent out to wait and drink water (which is supposed to make it easier to draw a sample) and they called a second patient in. When I was called through again the second phlebotomist took the blood quickly and efficiently while we all had a laugh about her friend’s failure. I do enjoy my blood-letting sessions – they are the only social life I have these days.

After that it was off to work for five hours in an empty shop. There wasn’t much to do so I cleaned the sink, the computers, the toilet and the door handles. When I went back to the computer I noted that two more orders had come in and then, on finishing those, found that another had come in. Sometimes the days seem to last forever.

I sent a text to the owner telling him we were running low on stationery and then sent another to Julia telling her I was running late, in part due to my co-worker failing to refill the drawers after using all the envelopes from two of them. I added three of those faces with steam coming out of the nostrils to indicate annoyance and sent it. Big, stiff fingers and touch screens are a bad combination and I sent it to the boss. Then I rang him to explain I had meant it for Julia.

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear…

The Post Office was empty, so Social Distancing was a doddle.

Then it was home to try again with the difficult blog post (it still proved difficult) and news that people want to take down the statues of Sir Francis Drake in Devon. He might have done a bit of slave trading, but they all did in those days, so if this continues, we will have to take down all our statues, replace them with images of liberal nonentities and rewrite our history. It was an evil trade, and I make no excuses for it, who does it help to label all historical figures, with hindsight, as evil racists?

It’s all getting a bit like 1984, though of course, that’s a tricky subject too, as George Orwell’s great-grandfather was a slave owner and, if things carry on the way they are going, we’ll soon be burning his books rather than reading them.

That is more or less the subject of one of the blog posts I am finding difficult. I don’t like modern life.

And that was my day.

I am now going to submit my grocery order for tomorrow. An hours struggling with TESCO’s rubbish website on a creaky old computer. This is the stuff dreams are made of.

 

I rose a little earlier than usual this morning, which is part of my new plan. It is necessary, after weeks of casual slacking, to return to the world. Rising earlier will help me get more work done, and if I get up fifteen minutes earlier each day I won’t notice the gradual change. By the time I go back to work I will be rising with the lark and facing the day with fortitude. Not that we have a lot of larks in Nottingham, in the morning or, indeed, at any time of the day.

As I descended, ready for the day, the post arrived. I now have a new supply of bran for the bokashi bucket. We are producing a lot more vegetable waste these days as a result of healthy eating. As we gradually work our way through the carrots I am also peeling more – there’s something very unappetising about the skin of an aging carrot.

I will be finalising our shopping list later in the day, and carrots won’t be on it.

The second parcel contained masks. I’ve only bought ten, but I thought I’d get a few just in case. Government advice is still that we don’t need them, but this might change and it’s easier to wear a proper mask than make one from a handkerchief and two rubber bands.

face mask on blue background

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

In the evening, acting on Tootlepedal’s advice, I watched some improving TV. First I watched a painting programme, which would have been useful if I had any talent for painting. Then I did the washing up while Julia watched an Andy Warhol exhibition at the The Modern. We then sat down for two programmes about Philip Larkin. He was an interesting though slightly repellent character, but I knew that. The first programme was by someone who had known him and was quite interesting. The second was by someone who had trained as an actor before becoming an academic. That one was interesting because it showed how an academic can build a media career.

Just after midnight I checked in with TESCO, which has no delivery or collection, and ASDA, which did have a collection slot. I did some ordering then had a look at the list for our Thursday collection. It’s hard doing the shopping by remote control.

No News, Fake News and Lies

As I sit down to write, the promised blue skies and sunshine have been and gone. It was nice while it lasted. I was going to tell you what time of day it was, but when I looked at my wrist I realised that I didn’t have a watch on. In fact, now I come to think about it, I haven’t worn my watch for nearly two weeks. There is no need to wear a watch when you can check a clock, and I haven’t been far from a clock in the last two weeks.

It’s 13.15 according to the computer, and time, I think, to post. Once the posting is done I can get on with…er…

There isn’t much to do. I know I should be cleaning and organising and writing but it’s hard to motivate myself when I’m enjoying the loafing so much. Normally when I’m on holiday I end up more tired than I would if I was working, having tried to cram in a full week of activity, but this “holiday”, being longer than normal, is giving me time to relax.

I spoke to Number Two Son last night on something called WhatsApp. It’s not very grammatical, but it is, I’m told, free, and it allows voice calls via the Internet. It is a miracle of modern technology and is very much like the old international phone calls we used to make using satellites. You may remember them. They were generally crystal clear, suffered from lag and cost quite a lot. WhatsApp is muffled, breaks up and suffers from lag, but it is free.

He tells me that he is planning on staying in Canada. He still has just over a year left on his visa and is enjoying it, plus he has unemployment pay in Canada, which would not be the case if he returned to the UK. It’s a worry to have him 3,000 miles away at this time, but nice to know he’s enjoying himself.

One interesting bit of news is that the USA seems to be cornering the world market in surgical masks. Reports indicate that the President has banned the export of masks to Mexico and Canada, that the US government intercepted a consignment of masks on its way to Germany and that unidentified Americans bought a consignment of masks destined for France by offering the suppliers more money.

Dig a bit deeper it becomes more interesting. The Germans, it seems, intercepted a cargo of masks that was on its way to Switzerland a couple of weeks ago. And the French government requisitioned an export order of millions of masks being made in France for an NHS.

This seems to be a clear case of pots and kettles, particularly when you read that Germany banned exports of masks before America did, though they now seem to have modified this to allow export to EU countries. It’s a shame we left, isn’t it?

What is strange here is that none of the news is fake, but the way the facts are presented gives a very misleading picture.

woman in black coat and face standing on street

Photo by Gustavo Fring on Pexels.com

I just used the free photo function on WP. Do you mean I’ve been taking my own when there are loads out there I can just use? What an idiot…

A Confederacy of Dunces

“When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him.”  – Jonathan Swift

The second shoe fell today – I am laid off until further notice. It wasn’t unexpected, and in some ways it’s a bit of a relief as I now know what is going to happen regarding work. I didn’t want to let anybody down, but I didn’t want to bring any germs home to Julia either.

This isn’t as selfless as it seems. Without Julia I couldn’t cope in a world of technology, political correctness and compassion. It isn’t in my nature and I need someone to guide me through it. I would be lost without her and would just have to fade away, which I don’t want to do that just yet. They call it the widowhood effect.

Having done badly in a round of Pointless which demanded knowledge of US State capitals I will be starting a course of increasing my general knowledge from tomorrow.

I’m also planning on measuring and cataloguing my collection of Peace Medallions.

After that I may rearrange my sock drawer. The question is whether to sort them by colour, length or type.

After that I may run down the street screaming and waving an axe.

I’ve been amusing myself with watching news reports of the coronavirus, or even news reports not about the coronavirus. Listen to the advice then watch what happens.

There were pictures on TV of Italian policemen stopping people for breaking curfew. Some police were wearing masks pulled away from their mouths and noses and others were wearing them over moustaches.

Our government advice is that healthy people should not wear masks, and that masks without eye protection are not useful. Advice for many years has been that masks don’t seal properly if you have facial hair. I have been told that many times by Health & Safety men, but I was working with chemicals, not pathogens. And finally, they only work when you wear them – seems obvious but several of the Italian Police hadn’t thought of that.

Then there were pictures of Alex Salmond. I’ll leave it to you if you read the article but look at how close they all are. That’s not two yards apart. To be honest, even if there was no coronavirus I’d be wary of standing too close to Alex Salmond after some of the things that were said at the trial.

How about the daily press conferences? They seem to have changed now but until yesterday the journalists all seemed rather tightly packed. Have a look at this picture– how far apart are they?

Do as I say and not as I do seems to be the watchword.

Tonight a news crew stopped a man in London and asked what he was doing. He was filming for his YouTube channel.

“Should you really be doing that?” they asked.

Am I the only one detecting the irony of the question? I’ve been saying for days that we’d be better off without all these news reporters roaming the streets to complain about people roaming the streets.

So there you are – the inside of my head during a day in the life of a crisis.

I will look for a picture, but I’m not sure I have any that are appropriate. Instead, here are some ducks on the duckpond at the Mencap garden. Julia took them on Friday when we popped by to water and check seedlings.

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Ducks on a Pond

If you want a good book to read whilst self-isolating try this.

Man with a pink Glue Gun

I’m getting in touch with my feminine side today. It’s not something I set out to do, but as I using a pink glue gun for craft activities, it’s sort of unavoidable. Added to that I am leaving a definite hint of fragrance as I move. That was definitely unavoidable.

The lack of diversity in rural gene pools isn’t something I’m qualified to discuss from a medical point of view, though with a family tree that rarely married anyone outside walking distance, I’m not one to point fingers.

However, there does seem to be a peculiarity in the farmer’s family in that they all seem to fear the natural smell of toilets. To be fair, having worked extensively with manure I’m probably desensitised to the smell. They, on the other hand, insist on booby trapping the toilets with sprays that fire a blast of corrosive scent whenever they detect movement. It wouldn’t be so bad if they positioned the things properly.

In recent days I’ve nearly been asphyxiated by one that faces directly into the sink, and fired a blast into my lungs as I washed my hands. This morning I was hit again, this time by one positioned to go off as soon as you open the toilet cubicle. I opened the door to check all was well for our visiting group when a blast of spray hit me.

We’ve had complaints from schools about kids getting a faceful of chemicals, but it doesn’t seem to have any effect. Like so many things, we move it and explain why, they move it back.

At the moment I am still coughing, and still reek of cheap scent, though at least my eyes aren’t running now. It’s at times like these that I wonder how we can use so many aerosols in a place called The Ecocentre. The answer, I fear is that ecological principles are outweighed by the chance to make my life miserable.

That’s why I smell like the toilet in a three star hotel.

Why, you may ask, the pink glue gun and the pursuit of craft activities?

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Pink Glue Gun and mask making

The answer to that is money. A group made a late booking, Julia is working today, and I have stepped into the breach. We will be making autumn masks again today and I have just been making the blanks.

You take a paper plate, make a cut from rim to centre and then overlap the cut edges and glue them in place. It make a cone shape, though you can’t really see that in the photo. Here are some pictures of finished masks, and a link.

 

The pink glue gun is because Julia has a pink one after I complained she kept leaving my black one blocked up. Once we had two, the inevitable happened, and we managed to pack the black one away and forget where we put it.

I could make excuses for that, but in this case it really is down to my lack of organisation.

 

Poppies and the end of the beginning

The poppy project is starting to take shape. Apart from that, it’s been a strange day – D minus 47, or minus 13 if you count days we will actually meet.

Fortunately the group is taking it well, with a few mutterings about farmers and plenty of discussion about what they are going to replace us with. It’s a little sad to be so easily replaced but that’s just how it is. In another way, I was thinking that it’s good that we have taken them to this point and they feel happy to embark on a new venture.  If this had happened a few years ago I’m sure we would have had more trouble about the change.

We’re not finished yet, as we’re still looking for somewhere to go, though we’re driven by optimism more than reality.

Dave, one of the founders, came to visit. He was working with Julia at the council when his contract came to an end and she decided she was fed up of constantly re-applying for her own job. The rest, as they say, is history. He’s been ill for a while, but is now on the way to recovery. That brightened the day, as the group always likes to see him. We’re going to get Men in Sheds to help repair his old electric wheelchair, which is currently refusing to go in the same direction as the joystick.

It seems like a small enough fault, but in the context of a man who likes to get out and about this represents the very narrow margin between sightseeing on a river bank and being featured in a high profile emergency rescue.

He’s challenged me to a wheelchair race when he gets it fixed, so watch this space.

Vicki brought the poppies in from the Barnstone Brownies, so the display is looking good. She’s really put a lot of effort into this, with making poppies and doing research – shame we won’t be able to build on it for next year. I’m thinking of burying the poppies after we’ve used them. It will be both an artistic statement, and an ancient military tactic: there is so much salt in them that the new tenants, with their promised landscaping, may find there is a permanent bald patch where little will grow.

We’ve also been doing a bit of packing, some Christmas planning, and rehearsing the Christmas entertainment. That might be better expressed as Christmas “entertainment” as a bit of Bollywood style belly dancing, a carol (yet to be decided) and a rendition of I’ve got a lovely bunch of coconuts is going to have an uncertain effect on the audience.

Finally, we have a picture of me wearing a hat from the lost property. According to Julia I look like the oldest of the Lost Boys. I’m not sure how to take that. If it’s a reference to Peter Pan it’s probably OK, but if it’s a reference to the film I’m not so keen.

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The Oldest Lost Boy

What we did next

So, what have we been doing apart from egg-based humour?

Well, we ate doughnuts, made Halloween masks, and I tried to take a photo of a green woodpecker through dirty triple glazing. The doughnuts and masks were successful. The photographs weren’t, as the glazing and dirt mess with the autofocus. When I went out to try for some clearer photos the woodpecker (a) hid and (b) flew away.

 

 

later I saw a kestrel perching on the brush shaft of the hooded youth statue. I got my camera, I switched it on…

…and got the Battery Empty message.

So I swapped batteries…

…and got the same result.

I then remembered that I hadn’t recharged them, because they’d run out late one day – too late to recharge at work and too stupid to remember once I got home.  Bah!

Can’t really complain though, as we got great views of kestrels and a buzzard perching by the roadside on the way to work. The buzzard was on a fence post along the new A46, perching at about eye level. We couldn’t have asked for a better view.

Later in the afternoon we cleared some beds, played a Dracula-themed snakes and ladders game (Julia kept winning) and finished off Monday’s biscuits. They had kept well, and we really should have left them a few days longer, but you know how it is.

I can vouch for most of my biscuit recipes lasting three days. If you ever find me vouching for them lasting longer, ask yourself why they are still not eaten.

At least, having seen two small falcons today, Julia was able to make a quip about the coming of night and the fact that we would be having Orkestrel Manoeuvres in the Dark.

Pop music puns can be tricky as they are sensitive to the age of those listening, but for those of us who remember the band, it’s a quality pun.