Life, photos but not the universe

Talking to monitors

It seemed to take a long time but finally I have a new monitor.   It was getting impossible to see round the interference from the old one and I gave up trying.  No matter.  The new one is big and shiny and was a splendid bargain (manager’s special offer in PC World – down from £135 to £99)  and it was quite a shock, seeing things all big and bright.  Dazzlingly bright even, and with alarmingly garish colours.  Maybe a little bit over the top?  So I’ve invested in a monitor calibration tool because either the photos looked right on the old monitor or on the new one but most definitely they aren’t the same.  I may have to do some dreadfully technical things when the gadget arrives though, unless it’s very clever and can talk to the monitor.  If not, I will have to talk to the monitor.  Um, well not like talking to flowers, you understand.  You don’t talk to flowers?  Well never mind, it’s all technical stuff about brightness and contrast and colour values that the monitor is using and you have to tell the gadget so it can – er – I’ve run out of jargon.  Calibrate?  Yes, I think that’s it.  I like a new learning experience.

We had a tremendously hectic bank holiday.  Some dear friends who have moved to Europe, came for lunch and then we went to the pub and sat in the garden.  The Middles came and Little Middle enchanted everyone as always and then they came back for dinner and to stay the night.  Two dinners in one day!  And enough boozing to last a week!  I’m just recovering – just as well too as I’m minding Little Middle today and you need to be well on the ball when she’s around*.

Well I got my calibrating gadget yesterday and I had a stab at telling it what it wanted to know about the monitor and I let it dangle on the screen till it had finished flashing and changing colours and probably now, what I see is roughly what I got when I took the photo.  It doesn’t take long for the brain to tell the eyes that things are just as normal does it?   Mine usually whinges a lot when I see the difference between tinted glasses and car windows and the naked view (the tinted windows make the open window bit look pink.  I really can’t stand that.)  but it’s different when there’s no change to compare.

So I’ve no idea what you’re seeing when you look at my photos.  It probably depends on your monitor!**

Meanwhile, I’ve noticed that not only are my typos getting wilder but I seem to be incorporating them into my handwriting as well.  Yesterday I wrote eblows instead of elbows and I couldn’t understand half of my shopping list last week – though that was partly due to my illegible handwriting – which is definitely getting worse.  And I’ve been losing surnames.  A friend turned up yesterday with a steam train magazine for Barney.  We don’t see them often but their son was one of my son’s best friends at school.  I remembered all the family’s names even the daughter, who I rarely met, and the dogs.  But their surname – Carr?  Carter?  Calder?  Calcott (Oh no, that’s a place).  Eventually I gave up and looked in my contacts.   Clarke.  Obviously!

Oh dear.

Once in a while I see something that’s just sensible.  I get emails from espares from time to time and for once, I looked at one, thinking, maybe I would like a wine bottle rack in the fridge.  Then I was distracted by the bit that said “Do you know how your fridge works Mrs Bardsley?” (No, not really) “watch this short video and find out.  You might pick up some tips on what to replace if it breaks down”.  Idly, I did and astonishingly it was  short and informative and Matt from espares wasn’t at all irritating and spoke intelligable English with no ridiculous verbal tics.  Fascinated by this unusual phenomenon, I went on to watch Helen explaining how to deal with smelly fridges and someone else showing you how to identify leaks and someone showing you how to replace a fridge seal.  Anyway, although a sudden fascination with advertising videos from a spare parts company may look like more of the sort of thing that you want to watch out for in the elderly, I’m including a link to it because I can’t remember when I last , if ever, saw advertising which was helpful, useful, inoffensive and assumed that you’d rather repair than replace your old fridge.

Now I’m going to fling a couple of photos in and go to bed.  I have an appointment with a small person tomorrow and she may not want me to sleep some more so I’d better do it now.

*As it turned out I didn’t need to be too alert as she was very keen to put me to sleep on the sofa with her cuddly blanket, variously, on and under my head or just wrapped around my feet.  

**But I checked and the poppies still look ridiculously red.

August 30, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Life’s little difficulties

I’m just going to have a small session of stamping, swearing, going hot under the collar and jumping up and down (in my dreams) with fury.

Take the four words,UK, Business, Directory and Online and then combine them in every possible way you can.  (I don’t know the maths but I have a feeling that you can combine four items in a lot of different configurations?) One of those configurations is (or maybe half a dozen of them are) the name of a genuine company which optimises your google listing.  All the rest are somebody running a scam.  So two or three times a week someone rings you up and says Hi I’m blah blah, calling from blah blah and we’d like to check that the details you’ve given us are correct before we charge you for another three years.  (The cost ranges from one to three hundred pounds.)

Well it’s quite simple really.  You just need to know who you have paid, some time in the last three years, to optimise your google listing. Right?  Now was it Business Uk online or Directory Online Business.  Or possibly Uk Business Directory Online.  Oh Oops, I’m getting confused. Actually, I’m pretty sure it was …. Oh.  I’ve forgotten again.

Anyway, after a rash of such phone calls I insisted that Barney must make a record of which one he actually pays – not so easy as of course the bank statement reference isn’t particularly meaningful – and having settled on one, arrange a password so that when they call we just ask for the password and then assume, if they’ve got it, that we actually do pay them.  The rest I can dismiss.  Actually, it turns out that there are two.  Um.  One real one and one scam?  Probably.

After a further rash of calls, I looked it up (can’t think why I didn’t do it sooner) and of course it is a scam.  But they don’t like it if you ask for passwords, phone numbers and emails – in fact they don’t like you to interrupt their spiel.  Some of them get quite shirty about it, though we haven’t yet been told any of them will send in the bailiffs which apparently they often threaten to do.  I usually take the attitude that the people in the call centres aren’t the ones at fault but I’m thinking of pointing out to the next one that although he or she may not have been told so, he or she is definitely being used to perpetrate a scam and should consider their position.  Or something similarly pompous!  Because I’m beginning to get a picture – there are the tired and weary ones who give up at the first question and there are the bossy busy ones who argue and the bright and cheery ones who think they are going to get a commission because they’ve been clever and there are the bored and particularly infuriating ones who keep on spieling away after a brief pause to pretend they were listening to me asking questions.  It was one of those who made me go all pink and cross and stamp my foot after I put her down.  For these people, word vers wouldn’t be bad enough!


Meanwhile, my monitor has taken to telling me it’s adjusting the brightness and contrast.  When I first got the computer, I almost immediately deleted a programme which claimed to be doing that but now it’s doing it all by itself.  I suppose that means the monitor is about to go down its own tube.  Pooh.  They don’t make them the shape mine is any more which means I’ll have to find space for a wider one to get the same height.

Oh and Barney’s got an iphone.  Isn’t it funny how as soon as people actually see one working, they suddenly realise that’s what they need.  When the apprentice and I both got them, Barney fell straight in!  Now I have to set up all his email and internet and apps and so on.  I fear I may have trouble with the email – there’s definitely something odd about the way his is set up.  Oh well.  Time for a call to Lovely Patrick, the computer fix-it man, who will probably not be terribly happy to learn that he’s needed to wrestle with this particular little problem again*.

All very exhausting – Never mind.  The poppies are back.  Every year I am amazed all over again and this year they seem to be even more astonishingly red – if you didn’t know they were poppies, you might think there was a field on fire in the distance.


I took my time getting right up close – they looked dangerous!**

Sometimes too much of a good thing is just enough.

*Oh yes, he remembers us.  “How could I ever forget” he said when I phoned him.  And asked after Barney’s Achilles tendon.  He really is a nice man.

**Actually they were just camouflage for something much worse than dangerous.  I brought home a tick –  I think they must be on the increase round here.  I’m definitely not climbing up any more banks again unless I’m wearing leg armour!

August 21, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | 6 Comments

Technology has come on a bit

Since the days when children got their feet xrayed for shoe sizes, hasn’t it.

Today* I had my first MRI scan.  This is definitely an experience of some sort and in my bossy ‘I know best’ way, I had decided that I would choose my own music to keep claustrophobia at bay, not that I have claustrophobia as far as I know, but you can never tell what might happen in the belly of a machine.  Anyway I listened to bits of Debussy’s La Mer in between outbursts (or possibly inbursts) of surprisingly loud clunks and thumps and creaks and obediently lay still for many hours (well actually just over half an hour) and decided that since they were looking at my back it would be ok to wiggle my fingers and toes now and then and resisted the impulse to cough several times.  Now and then I opened my eyes, just to check that the boring curvy bit was still two inches away from my nose and it was. When they told me that I could press the squeezy escape button any time but they’d have to start all over again if they let me out I made sure that the button was well away from any chance of accidentally squeezing it!

Also I tried to tell if I could feel all my molecules being magnetically realigned and I couldn’t but I did think once or twice about that Brownian motion thing where we wonder what would happen if all the random Brownian motions of molecules suddenly went in the same direction at once.  It’s random right? So probably it might happen one day.  Or has already and nobody noticed.

Anyway, after lying flat on my back for half an hour inside a noisy tube on a hot table (I decided the heat was something generated between me and the plastic, not coming from the machine, or they would have told me about it) I felt slightly disorientated and when they rolled me out I said “that’s a hot noisy bugger isn’t it”.  Only joking but they were not amused.

The MRI scanner is often described as being doughnut shaped but to my mind it was more like a very small spacecaft capsule – the bit behind the pointy bit.  What with all the assorted noises you could easily imagine being blasted off head first and I wished I’d brought “Thus spake Zarathustra”.  Though after looking at google images to find one to illustrate what I mean, I realise that what it really looks like is a big washing mashine.  I can’t immediately think of  any music to suit this image.

I was grateful for the bits of Debusy that I could hear though.  It’s not a highly stimulating** experience most of the time though I suppose it’s interesting to be investigated by such an impressive piece of machinery.  I hope they let me see the pictures.

Anyway I’ve read this month’s book club offering.  Um.  50 shades of grey.

Bit of an experiment – one of the girls said every woman on the beach was reading it when she was on holiday.  Apparently it’s the book of the year in ‘everyone’s talking about it’ terms***.  Hmm.    Here is a list of some words and expressions used in the book and counted by one reviewer. I think that’s all that needs to be said.

“Oh My” – 79
“Crap” – 101
“Jeez” – 82
“Holy (shit/fuck/crap/hell/cow/moses)” – 172
“Whoa” – 13
“Gasp(s)” – 45
“Murmur(s)” – 207
“Whisper(s)” – 199
“Mutter(s)” -51
“Fifty” – 16
“Lip” – 71
“Inner goddess” – 58
“Subconscious” – 82

She forgot “growled” – 17 (the wonders of technology – instant word counts on the kindle)

Fortunately it’s not a big book and there were long passages that could be skimmed (including the 1189 words listed above).   I can’t believe we’ll have much to say at book club next week.

I went looking for ponds the other day and found some – as you can see.  A curious little collection of water-filled hollows tucked in between recently cleared woodland and lushly overgrown younger growth.  Unexpectedly close to the beaten track but well concealed from it – I found them on google maps, just a mile away from home.  I guess they would have been something to do with the brick making trade in the past as there were lots of brick kilns and works around here – our local pub, the Pot Kiln was one.

We watched the Olympic closing ceremony last night.  Some of it was pretty good  though it would have been asking a lot to produce something as stunning as the opening.  It was nice to see that (unlike Sir Paul) Roger Daltry and Pete Townsend can still do it.     I think it’s been quite a good Olympics hasn’t it?  I haven’t watched a lot of it but Barney has been giving me regular updates and occasionally emerging with a big smile after a particularly good win.

Now I must make some chips for Barney tonight.  Well partly make them.  He’s much enamoured with the ‘thrice cooked’ idea.  Well they are nicer but really it’s all a lot of extra faff isn’t it.  I’d better go and faff a bit.  I think I’ll have a sausage as well.  Sausages are good.

*Last week really, it takes me for ever to get round to finishing a post these days

**Except to the molecules of course, all being magnetically dragged this way and that, willy nilly.

***I don’t know anyone, myself, who’s talking about it;  I suppose that’s something to do with the literary tastes of people I know.  Though of course on Wednesday, I will know three people who will then be talking about it.  Hmm.  


August 16, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Another year,

another family party, more food and drink and lots of delightful small children came and went.  (Also a winding down period of slightly more than a week – it’s hard work, that partying)

Three dogs ran riot, though mostly quite quietly*.  The house bulged slightly and at night, breathed gently and heaved a good few peaceful snores.  The sun shone a lot and occasionally there were clouds.  Barney went out on Friday to get some beer and returned with a new garden umbrella, a new gazebo, a bubble machine and two paddling pools some of which were noisily enjoyed by children and dogs.  (the dogs, of course gave the adults the benefit of their paddling)

Youngest’s Vodka Jelly was treated with the respect it deserved and so there’s quite a lot of it left – I think most people felt that a sniff was as much as they needed to get the full experience.  We nearly ran out of bread, salad and milk but there seemed to be exactly enough sausages, burgers, chicken legs, kebabs and fruit, though the cake, (Mrs Middle’s white chocolate and coconut) lemon meringue and chocolate brownies (Youngest’s again) vanished amazingly swiftly.

There was loads of washing up (so I’m told) and a huge breakfast (full English for 15) on Sunday morning which vanished fairly quickly too.  Then there was a certain amount of somnolence in the sun followed by a few drops of rain.  We languidly shifted some chairs and other canvas items under the gazebo and then suddenly, the heavens cracked open and a deluge descended with lightning and thunder.  It was a splendid storm.  Everyone went to the pub which was full, so we all moved on the the next pub which was not so full (and managed to provide a table for fifteen amazingly quickly).  Then we had a very nice lunch (nearly as good as the one we’d had the day before) and eventually people went home.

I’m afraid I didn’t take any photos – if I wasn’t carrying food around I was talking a lot or eating and drinking – or all three at once ^~^

Families are so nice.  (If they’re nice families , obviously)

Since he wasn’t able to play with the chainsaw on a stick last week,  Barney reverted to another favourite pastime, building fires.

There’s nothing like a good bonfire!

Meanwhile, it’s back to Granny work.  I’d forgotten how time consuming a toddler is, even only two days a week. And how delightful it is being loved by a small warm laughing person.  She’s nearly two and she’s beginning to practice her terrible skills.  However, when she was protesting mightily about having a nappy changed yesterday, she paused to snort as her nose was all blocked and runny!  This produced an unbelievable amount of – well, anyway, it made me laugh out loud and even surprised her into momentary silence.  After that we finished the nappy in giggly harmony.

*I only found out that Marmite (cat chasing Alsation cross) was coming, at three oclock on the day he was going to arrive and was lucky that our local dogg-catt-ery had a space for Tosca who might have found life, well, rather short, if she’d been here.  She’s no slouch in the ear, nose and eye scratching department but she’s getting to be a slightly deaf old lady now and what with doors open and children and dogs running free in every direction she was well out of it – though she was deeply offended and not at all grateful for her removal to a safe place.

August 6, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | 5 Comments