Tag Archives: don’t talk to me about life

Broken

Although the title could fit me—though it is fair to say I’m not as broken as I thought I might be after recent national and international events—this is about this blog.

I’ve been busy at the workbench, with little time to sit at my computer. After my last entry here, back in March, I made the mistake of updating the main WordPress software and plugins. One of the most useful plugins, though, breaks the site. I simply am unable to access anything, presented with a white blank page. To gain access to the dashboard, I have to log into the nether regions of the control panel, rename or delete a folder, and then the site comes back to life for me.

The problem is the plugin is one of the most useful, and to pile agony further it’s made by WordPress themselves! Jetpack handles things like cross-posting links to my social media, notifying me if there’s been a comment, and lots of other handy things. Only it’s broken. Numerous updates have been and gone, yet it’s still broken. I can’t be the only person affected by this, can I? Sadly, it seems I am. There’s nothing recent on the WP web site itself. I’ve asked a question of the WP gurus, but I don’t expect a straightforward answer, if an answer is forthcoming at all.

So, I’m left with the annoyance that my blog is somewhat broken. I’m hoping this issue will be resolved in due course, but I’m not holding out any hope. Normal service may be resumed at some point.

2016 – a year in review

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This review of my year is somewhat coarse and uncouth. I apologise if any of the following language causes offence. I’ve tried to be creative with it rather than write what I really think! It’s just, well, it’s just been one of those years, hasn’t it?

I usually try to find a suitable header image for these reviews. The best idea I came up with was an image of 2016 being flushed down a toilet, just as a big fat hairy arse was pooping 2017 into it. It sort of sums up my feelings. Yes, this year has been a bit of stinker to say the least. 2017, though, is set to be a real honker. An “I’d leave that about 20 minutes before you go in” sort of year. That’s why I’ve put a picture of Billy-puss there instead.

So, 2016. What have you got to say for yourself?

The World

It’s very easy to be a bit of a grump about the state of things, I think. I keep looking for something positive. I’m sure there are one or two diamond chips lurking in the overall shower of shit that was 2016, but I’m buggered if I can spot them.

The new year set the trend with the somewhat unexpected death of David Bowie in January. It seemed to go downhill from there, frankly. When you come to look at it calmly, though, the quantity of celebrity deaths in 2016 isn’t really all that much different to previous years. It just seems worse, I think, because there’s a cohort of actors, musicians and so on, that has reached that kind of age where they will tend to drop of the perch. It becomes more acute when you’ve lived with these people as part of your life, even if only vicariously or tangentially. Their work, of course, lives on.

The Middle East remains an utter mess. As I type this, a final act in Syria is potentially beginning, but I don’t wish to comment in depth. Bombings and shootings in Turkey, Jordan, Iraq, and whatever you do don’t mention Yemen… No one source of “news” can give a clear picture of the maelstrom, and picking shreds of truth from the endless frothing onslaught is all but impossible. At every turn, claim and counterclaim, and everyone is currently blaming the Russians. Odd, that, since last year it was the Chinese.

We turn to the United States of America… Actually, no, let’s not. They’ve made their bed. We’d have suffered whichever side had claimed the presidency, and we’ve got enough of a pickle of our own to sort out.

The environment seems to be collapsing faster than Sterling against the US dollar. Despite the evidence before their very eyes, unbelievers still insist there is no such thing as anthropogenic global warming. I’ve given up. We might just as well give up and let it all crash and burn. Perhaps then they’ll listen, when it’s all too late to do anything. Actually, I think we passed that point about twenty years back, just when we were beginning to realise something was badly amiss. It’s your grandchildren I feel sorry for. I don’t have any kids, so I don’t waste any time worrying about their non-existent futures.

Sheesh! Is there a sane country left on this planet‽ Would you be surprised if I told you I was at the point of applying to emigrate to Iceland? Seriously. The only problem is I wouldn’t have a job there, Best Beloved wouldn’t like the climate, and working as a modelmaker in an overseas territory when my client base is mostly here in the UK would be a bit silly. Oh well, another door slams, as they say. Chalk up another opportunity I failed to grab as it sailed by. The story of my life.

Blighty

Sodding Brexit. Seriously, sod it and all who sail in her. What a fiasco. Even if we end up not leaving the EU—and some polls seem to indicate a sufficient number of leave voters have since changed their minds, such that it could swing that way—something deeply fundamental at the core of the United Kingdom has been utterly broken. Brexit, apparently, means Brexit, whatever the hell that word salad is supposed to mean. Possibly with red, white and blue, but it means Brexit. That’s the level of foresight and planning our inglorious leaders have on the matter. I find it hard to look at anyone these days and trust them with anything. What must it be like for other EU nationals living here, let alone people with deeper skin tones? You know who I blame for it?

The sodding Tories, and especially that moon-faced arse-gibbon David Cameron. Frightened by the UKIP tendency, he called the referendum, failed to make it binding as he fully expected the Remain campaign would win it with ease, then flounced off to his millions when it all went tits up. Arrogant shit, leaving the rest of us in the same. If we could find him, he should be dragged back and his nose rubbed in the mess he’s made!

After a couple of nights of the long knives, Theresa May reached the top of the Conservative Party greasy pole. What’s rather worrying is she’s shown little aptitude for the job, which isn’t altogether surprising as she wasn’t exactly employee of the month in her previous one. I don’t suppose it’ll be long before we get to choose more self-aggrandising wastes of oxygen and space to occupy the crumbling ruin of the Palace of Westminster. The Labour Party weren’t any better, either. Bunch of tossers. A leader is elected with a massive popular mandate, but the MPs don’t like him so they try to run another leadership campaign to oust him. The original leader is returned with an even larger mandate. What the actual blue-faced f@c# did they expect would happen‽ Honestly, what a bunch of moronic no-hopers. Meanwhile, the Tories run rampant, tearing the country to shreds with no real opposition. You couldn’t make this up.

Having decided by the slimmest of margins, of those that actually bothered to vote in the damned EU referendum that is, that the “will of the people” was we should leave the European Union, Mrs May placed Boris Johnson, Liam Fox and David Davis in charge. The Three Stooges, only with less intelligence and foresight. God help us all. Oh, I forgot, there is no god. Sorry. Looks like we are on our own.

That other bad smell, Nigel Farage (that’s pronounced as “farridge” round here), simply won’t go away. Having resigned from the Kippers’ leadership, he found himself back in it again almost immediately when the woman elected to run things found white middle-aged blokes don’t like women telling them what to do. Shades of General Election 2015. Now he’s found a properly loony white middle-aged bloke to run things, Farage is off again. Mr Froggy-Would-A-Wooing-Go has recently been crawling up the tailpipe of the Orange One in Trumpland. I wish he’d crawl up there and stay, and good riddance. I wish to no longer see his leering visage on my television screen, thank you.

What a nasty, vicious, small-minded place this once great country has become. Perhaps it’s always been that way, but the pretty wrapping paper covered it up. Who knows. Whatever, it’s a darker place now than it was this time last year, and it was no Blackpool illuminations back then either.

We had some pretty good weather during the summer, so that was nice. The autumn was pretty spectacular, too. I failed to get out my camera gear, though. Another positive note was the release of a new ELO album. The summer was only marred by the old biddie in Buck House turning 90. Woo-bloody-hoo! Oh, and the Rio Olympics. To be fair, Team GB did quite well. Good luck to ’em.

Domestic

At home it’s been a year of ups and downs. On my work front, it’s like it’s never ending. I closed my order book for 2017, and will tentatively take on new commissions for 2018 some time during next year. It’s feels good to be in demand, but my pace of work is painfully slow at times. Still, the bank balance is well into the black, which is a nice place to be.

We said goodbye to our old Sophie-puss in May. Her health had been on a downturn for a while, but bearing in mind she was close to 20 years old, she didn’t do too badly. We went off to be chosen again as soon as we could, and Billy-puss has made himself properly at home now. It’s almost like he was meant to be here.

Best Beloved’s health has been up, down, up, and sideways. He’s not too bad, overall, considering what’s wrong with him. As I type this review, we’re both in the last stages of recovering from a really nasty bout of some cold virus or other. I have never felt so ill. It killed appetites, meaning we’ve been missing out on meals, leading to overall weakness. Today is the first day we’ve felt almost human. I don’t want another dose of that, thank you very much indeed.

In other news, we had a new back door and window fitted. We’d been planning to do that for about a decade. We then lashed out on a new air source heat pump heating system. Theoretically, it will save us money on our utility bills. While it’s not perfect, and doesn’t really heat the whole house floor area as one would expect, it’s doing okay and we look to be on track to make some savings as predicted. Our gas consumption is now down to a tiny amount, as we still need to make hot water for washing and so on, but we’re looking at alternatives to that. Our energy supplier recently announced that they sourced all their electricity from renewable and low carbon sources, which is nice, and our monthly payments have been reduced based on our usage. I call that winning.

So we end the year on a generally positive personal note. I know there is still a lot of good out there, and there’s still a lot of beauty in the world, but you have to admit it’s becoming pretty hard to put on a happy face for any length of time. Let me end my drivel by wishing you and your families the very best compliments of the season, and let us hope that 2017 turns out to be not as bad as it looks like it might be. See you in the new year!

I need to say this

(This is an edited version of a rant I did on Facebook earlier.)

Look, no-one is trying to derail Brexit. Get it into you thick brexiteer skulls that letting our sovereign parliament of elected representatives debate what the terms of our exit from Europe should be is a Good Thing. Isn’t that one of the things you all claim you voted for in that wretched referendum?

I didn’t want to leave Europe, but I am resigned to the fact it will happen. So, forgive me if I don’t want to let the morons grab the steering wheel while we all try to make the exit as beneficial to EVERYONE in the UK as we can.

We have to work TOGETHER. If we don’t, we are all utterly screwed. Understand that, and help make leaving the EU as painless as we can.

Thank you. Peace. Out.

Exercise

I am no spring chicken. I am well aware of this fact. I am also becoming aware I really should have taken a bit more care of myself when I was younger.

I have an active brain. It’s always churning away on something. Some nights it keeps me awake because it won’t let go of something. I may be worrying over how to accomplish a task on a model build currently on the workbench, or I may be reliving some disaster in the previous day or so and how I could have either prevented it or retained more dignity than perhaps I may have managed at the time. I think it’s fair to say my brain is the most active part of me!

As I grow older, it is becoming more critical that I begin to take an active, albeit belated, interest in looking after myself. I need to lose weight, and I need to do some exercise.

I bought a bike a few years ago. For a while I was riding it every day or so, building up stamina, feeling better for moving various bits of me that don’t customarily move quite that much. Then we had some bad weather, and the bike stayed in the shed longer. Winters and springs came and went, and the bike remained locked away. A pang of guilt strikes every time I venture into the shed to retrieve something or other. There’s my bike, sitting there, patiently. I will often flick the bell on the handle bars, for old time’s sake. Perhaps this year, I think to myself. Perhaps I will get back on the bike.

I see people running, or pounding away on machines at leisure centres and gyms, and I wonder what they see in it. What is going on in their heads while their body burns the calories? Could their lives be so empty that they actually get pleasure from physical exercise? I know exercise releases chemicals into the brain that makes you feel better, so perhaps that’s it. After a while, it must become an addiction.

Last year I had a run in with the medical world, as we tried to find out why my heart was seemingly skipping a beat or three very frequently. Again, the rejoinder was to change lifestyle, get more exercise, lose weight. If only it was that simple. Now, it seems, my blood pressure has decided it needs to be higher than normal. My body may be ganging up on my brain after all!

The trouble is I’m a lazy sod. I know I need to exercise more. I realise it’s for my own good. But that active brain of mine keeps nagging at me that if I start walking every day, or—heaven forfend—break out the bike again, it’s time away from productive work. Walking anywhere without a purpose, or riding up and down the same bit of road, just for the sake of burning calories and building up muscles is not my idea of time well spent. The simple fact is I find exercise the most tedious waste of time. I don’t, I tell myself, have time to spend away from things that might be much more interesting, or even making some kind of living.

Then again, I can’t afford to be ill. I am just going to have to find the time to get a little fitter. It looks like the bike will see daylight once again. The time has come, it seems, to take my lifestyle by the throat and give it a good shaking. Wish me luck.

Mortality

I think it’s fair to say I’ve passed one of those significant milestones in my life. Although mentally I still feel like I am thirty, physically it is becoming apparent I am starting on the downhill side of life. Things are wearing out, falling out and generally aching. I groan when I stand up, I can’t kneel properly any more, and the old back aches and twinges more frequently.I am beginning to feel my age. There is a slow dawning that I am mortal, a realisation that one day I shall no longer be around.

Many of my friends and loved ones are older than me. Best Beloved is a full quarter century older than me, interestingly more or less the same age as my parents. There are not many of my friends—not counting those online and spread across the planet—who are actually younger than me. I also don’t have children, and neither does my younger sister. These are lifestyle choices we made, but it means we don’t actually have direct relatives to take on whatever we leave behind. I assume my sister will outlive me, but one can never be sure of these things. Will she even want to deal with the detritus of another life?

In short, I am going to have to think carefully how my property and, if you will forgive the pomposity, my legacy will be handled once I am reduced to a forgotten bag of ashes. I am also having to consider how I will approach the closing of my life. I suppose it is pretty obvious that I will be alone at the end. Will I be able to control my decline, to keep some dignity at the end, to be able to dispose of possessions to people who might care about them before it’s too late? Should I begin to organise my affairs now, before senility sets in?

Sobering thoughts, and not a little depressing. Still, I suppose that’s life.

Catching up

Wow! It’s been a while since my last couple of posts. Apologies if you’re a regular visitor and missed my ramblings.

Let’s see, what’s been happening?

I decided to kill off the Invicta Shutterbugs photowalks. After a strong start, and support from some regular walkers, things had begun to tail off during the summer. I contrived to miss the September walk, having double-booked another event, and when it came to organising the October one my enthusiasm was spectacularly absent. I just couldn’t pull together enough keenness to sort out times, parking, things to see and so on, so I decided to kill things there and then. This doesn’t mean there won’t be any further walks. It just means any that happen will be less formal and more likely to occur on the spur of the moment.

My little car had been having a few problems. I’d had a new fuel tank fitted, but there were some teething problems with a persistent smell of petrol when cornering. We’d been all over things to diagnose the problem, and couldn’t locate it. We decided to wait until we could book the car into a garage with a ramp so the tank could be dropped out and checked over properly. While we waited, the exhaust pipe decided to part company. As the car would have to be up in the air for that to be fixed, we asked the garage to see if they could also fix the tank. Happily, they did—at the second attempt! I’ve now got a little red car that doesn’t smell of petrol all the time, and has a shiny new exhaust!

I’ve had fun and games with the pooter hardware again. I use a couple of drives to store original RAW images from shoots. Both drives are identical in content, so there’s a simple form of redundancy if one decides to crap out. Which it did. I thought it might be the enclosure, so I acquired a USB3 dock system, and it turns out the drive itself is buggered. I had to shell out for a large external drive so I could back up the backup again, as well as provide sufficient space for vault archives of my Aperture stuff. This never used to a problem in film days: everything got stuffed in a box and put on the top of the wardrobe! Anyway, the backup system has settled down again—for now. Let’s not even begin to think about migrating to the newest version of the Mac OS. Apparently, it eats Western Digital data for lunch, so I’m holding off until WD sort themselves out and get a software update out. I believe the WD hardware is supported by the OS without the WD software, but I got a bit scared and decided to hold off for now. While I don’t get all the new shiny, and I’m missing out on some new software updates, I can be patient until my data is safe.

I’ve been busy modelling. I’ve made a concerted effort to make it a proper Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 job, although that doesn’t stop me working on into the evenings and weekends as the mood takes me. As of now, the two Mark One coaches are nearing completion, and the client has paid their second instalment. I’ve got another build to get through, being a couple of etched brass coaches I need to finish and paint, then I have a steam loco and another coach to come. Things are looking quite interesting for quite some time into 2014, which is great. I will need to look at publicising things a bit more in the new year, and I’m considering a reworking of the web site.

I’ve been paid by my last “official” Imagic Design client, so I am looking to wind up operations there at the end of the year. The last job was a web site, which I will hand off to a friend and colleague who is happy to take it on into the future. I am glad to see the back of the design world, to be honest. It’s not been fun for over five years, and I won’t really miss it.

With my new-found wealth, I decided to splurge on a couple of photography items I’ve had my eye on for more than a couple of years. I’ve finally ordered a 17–50mm ƒ/2.8 lens and a battery grip for the EOS 7D. It seemed a hell of a lot of cash when I added it all up, but then I’ve been waiting for so long to get these items, and I had the money in the bank, so why not treat myself? I’ve been so patient for such a long time it was hard to spend such a large amounts of dosh without feeling very guilty, which I suppose is a good thing in a way. That’s about it for my large photographic expenses, so any more earnings go back into the modelling business. Other items I may want tend not to be in the three figure price bracket.

Well, that’s caught up with most things so far here at Snaptophobic Towers. I’ll share some images over a couple of posts, just to liven things up a bit.

Everything seems a bit shit these days

Tools and clutter

I’m not sure where I’m heading with this blog post, so please bear with me. I’m struggling to find ways to put into words what I am feeling at the moment. The following may get a bit sweary.

I guess we could call it entropy. Despite scientific and technological advances over the years, the steady decline of everything seems to be gathering pace. Be it failing services, failing commercial businesses, failing economies, failing schools, everything just seems to be a bit shit these days.

The last couple of posts I’ve made here just add to the general malaise. Who is this government that it runs roughshod over the poor, elderly, and disabled? Why don’t they listen to the collective roar of anguish and anger that’s growing every day in this country? How can we stop them making this country more shitty every day?

I’ve been having some issues with my car this past few months, as happens with older vehicles. The fuel tank developed a leak due to corrosion. I sourced a new tank, it was fitted, but for some reason it still leaked. It wasn’t a big leak, just an annoying one that gave a whiff of petrol fumes when you cornered and meant you couldn’t put more than half a tank full of fuel in. Our mechanic, who is a friend as well as car mender and who fitted the tank, has tried all sorts to remedy the situation, so far unsuccessfully. Unfortunately, he was incapacitated by a knee injury, so his efforts were curtailed somewhat. Meanwhile, the exhaust fell off. I know, it never rains…

Anyway, we decided to book the car in to the bigger garage my friend uses when he can’t manage, to fix the exhaust. While it was on the ramp, it was suggested the tank should be looked at, and fixed if possible. Two birds with one stone and all that. We eventually got the message all was fixed, all was fine and dandy, please come and collect your car and pay the bill.

Driving home, I still got the whiff of petrol when cornering. When I stopped on my drive, I looked underneath, and sure enough the fuel was leaking just as much as before. Suffice it to say, I’ve booked the car back in tomorrow, and I won’t be paying any more for it to be fixed, that’s for sure. It’s a nice shiny exhaust pipe, though.

This has all left a somewhat bitter taste in my mouth. As I waited for the washing-up water to drain slowly away down our badly-fitted kitchen sink outfall, I was overcome by a nagging feeling of annoyance that I don’t seem to have nice things any more, and those few nice things I do have never seem to last very long.

Nearly twenty years ago, I had a problem with a car. I was recommended to a garage, and I took the machine along to be looked at. The mechanic, also the proprietor, was a proper one in a boiler suit so ingrained with engine oil it would stand up on its own. You knew the dirt on his hands would never wash out. He was a proper car mechanic, who knew his trade inside and out. Cars came, cars went, and he worked on nine of them for us over the years.

We developed a huge level of trust in Tony. We would roll up with a problem, he’d diagnose it and fix it, and let us know there might be something else starting to wear out but it could wait until the next service. There were one or two issues that cropped up due to silly errors, but they were soon straightened out. We could trust Tony to fix things properly.

Tony eventually retired, and his business was passed on to some of his other mechanics. His business had grown quite a bit down the years, and was pretty successful. We continued to use the garage, but they seemed to be more expensive, they would fail to fix faults we had pointed out, and sometimes make things worse. Eventually, we had to scrap a car because they had completely failed to fix it, and it was in danger of becoming a money pit.

They lost our trust. We don’t use them any more.

It’s a hard thing to find a reliable garage, and while I trust my mechanic friend with the dicky knee, I am not sure I trust those he has to rely on for some mechanical services. I want to trust the garage that hasn’t fixed my fuel tank, though. If they deal with my complaint and actually put it right, I might feel comfortable using them again. We’ll see.

Meanwhile, I shall have to see what I can do about that kitchen sink, and draughty back door, and the myriad other things that are making my life ever so slightly shit at the moment.

I can’t see it.

Where

Our landlines went down yesterday. It seems our whole estate, possibly even further afield, has been affected. Last time this happened it turned out to be a false fire alarm at the local exchange, but it could easily be a cable theft locally now. Happily, as we have cable internet, I was able to log the fault with BT via their web site. 

I’ve highlighted a part of the text in the screengrab from the fault page, because try as I might I simply cannot find the “keeping you up to date” section of the site. Perhaps the relevant link was expunged in the makeover the site’s had, but the fault reporting engine hasn’t been brought up to date yet.

(I know BT Care have a Twitter account—@BTCare—and I tweeted about the dilemma last night including them in the conversation. They’ve been in touch via Twitter, which is nice.)

The last time our phones went down, I reported the fault via my mobile. We were updated via text messages on the repair process, which was nice. The problem is, I can’t find a way to add my mobile number to our BT account in order for BT to contact us about the fault. All they have at the moment is email. I suppose I could call them on my mobile anyway, as I have a fault log number, but that would be cheating!