Tag Archives: life

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.

Has it been a year‽ 

Wow! Doesn’t time fly? I can’t believe it’s been a year since we waved goodbye to l’Atomo and said hello to his replacement.

In the past twelve months we’ve travelled a lot further than we dared to in the little red Fiat. Obviously, a bigger car makes life a bit more comfortable, and the automatic gearbox makes a huge difference, too—especially in traffic. The year has also been pretty uneventful, in a motoring sense at least. No major panics, no worries about mechanical issues, no huge repair bills. I think it was a good decision to go for the Škoda.

We haven’t come up with a sensible name for the Roomster yet. It doesn’t have any really outstanding quirks to pick on, aside from its looks. It’s funny how I was never aware of these cars before, but there must be at least a half dozen of them in the neighbourhood. Once you know the shape, they pop out at you. 

The thing that both Best Beloved and I like about the Roomster is the storage. There are cubbyholes and pockets everywhere. The rear seats not only fold up, but can be removed completely, giving some useful carrying capacity if we need it, though we haven’t yet. I’ve been deputed as taxi for our neighbours, who enjoy regular coach trips and need to get to the pickup points. The car swallows them and their luggage with ease. 

The only thing I haven’t liked has been the gap between the rear seats and the luggage space cover. Because the seats can be moved for comfort, the gap is useful, but even at the furthest point back the gap still lets the nosey peer into the luggage space. I had thought to get tinted rear windows, but when I was investigating getting replacements for things like luggage nets and bag hooks I found Škoda also made a gap cover. 

I didn’t need to think twice.

It arrived is morning, and I had it fitted in a matter of seconds. It’s flexible, so it moves with the seats and luggage cover, and simply clips to the rear seat head restraints and the cover front lip. 

The instructions are straightforward, with happy and sad faces to show correct and incorrect fitting.

 
I am not sure about the disembodied hands, though. 

 

I’m not usually one to gush about aftermarket accessories, but this one has made me happy. So has owning a Škoda. 

L’Atomo lives!

Well, nearly.

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We had a man out to rummage under the bonnet today. He seems to think the breakdown isn’t terminal. This is encouraging.

I don’t plan on having the car repaired, though. I have actually posted it as “for sale” on a fan club site. If that doesn’t attract anyone, then I guess one of those online sales sites will see it go. I’d hate to see him scrapped, but if no-one wants to take him on that’s what will happen, I guess.

Meanwhile, l’Atomo’s replacement arrived today.

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Shiny black. I think I need to start a competition to find a name for it.

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.

More on positivity

If you recall, back in May, I linked to a post by Nick Miners about being positive. I linked to the post because it struck a chord with me about how it is so easy, what with everything going on around us and in the world generally, to be negative all the time. After a few years of things not going so well in my own corner of the planet, I had been generally trying to look on the bright side, and Nick hit home.

Nick’s been following up on the theme. Yesterday, he asked for examples of positivity from his Twitter followers. A mutual friend, Paul Dunning, responded. Paul, like me, is a designer by trade, and his interests are wide-ranging. In the past few months, he has been documenting the unique letterforms used by the local authority in his home town to name the streets. He is now creating letterpress blocks from the typeface, and I suspect a digitised variant won’t be far off.

I had a think, and while I am pleased the modelmaking work has taken off, I felt my positive contribution was Invicta Shutterbugs. I was really pleased with the way a regular local photowalk gathered interest, and how it’s led me to make new friends. Sadly, we haven’t figured out a way to share the resulting photography in a central place yet—something that bugs me and will need to be sorted out if the walks are to continue into another year. Anyway, Nick suggested the modelmaking would be more interesting, so I put some thoughts down and emailed him. You can read them on Nick’s blog.

I’d like to thank Nick for highlighting the need for positivity in our world. With the media churning out, and literally thriving on, bad news it is so easy to let yourself fall into the pit of despair. Realising there’s a lot of good about, and working away at making life better by having a more generally positive attitude to many things, can only make the world a better place.

It’s not you, it’s me

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I’ve always been a “nook surfer”. What that means is I tend to haunt the same places on the internet, rarely letting my mouse take me places I don’t know, or “feeling lucky” as Google puts it. I’m happy with being a nook surfer. I’m not a terribly adventurous person at the best of times, so staying within boundaries online kind of suits me.

I’m not afraid of the internet. I’m not anti-internet. I’ve been designing web sites since the late 1990s. I am still a big fan of email. I am a member on several special interest forums, active on a few, a lurker on the rest. I eventually figured out what a blog was, and dived in with both feet, several times over. I’ve been hooked by Twitter, fallen in and then out of love with Facebook, and share my passions with Flickr and Google+. I am an online social animal, partly driven by working from home for much of the last decade or so. My online life gives me the social interaction I would normally get from co-workers.

Only, of late, I’ve been falling out of love with my online world.

At first, I thought it was down to too much information. This stuff is addictive at times, so I forced myself to step away from the screen and keyboard, and do stuff that didn’t involve a computer. This worked for a spell, and I returned feeling refreshed and excited again.

Since the start of the year, though, I find I have once again fallen out of love. The usual places I frequent bore me. There’s no sparkle any more. I don’t feel the excitement and interest that was there before.

I’ve been working on the modelling bench since the start of January, between spells of trying to get a client interested in their web site project, and I think I’ve remembered there is more to life than sharing links, nattering about stuff and pretending to get annoyed with the world like it makes a difference. I do get annoyed with the world, but that’s another story, as copious posts on this blog bear witness.

2013 has seen the start of active monthly photowalks with new friends. We do share the results online, but beyond that my online interest wanes rapidly. I was all over Google+ a while ago, but these days I find it’s too much. There’s just too much information, too many people. I could prune back my circles, limit my interactions, but even then it all feels so overwhelming. Right now, I’m using G+ as a promotional tool for the photowalks. Twitter just sits there in the corner, and lets me vent my spleen, or follow interesting ideas, limited enough that I can keep up. Flickr is still my main photo sharing space, and I am favouring a hobby forum over others right now. I’ve stepped back from things to a degree, which is probably a good thing. I don’t plan on dropping all online interaction. Too many of my friends are spread too far afield to do that, and online is the only realistic way to keep up with them.

I’ve been giving serious thought to giving up the “day job”. I’ve been trying to find a proper paid job for some time now, and it’s increasingly obvious I won’t be working in the design world again. Those interviews I managed to secure have proved either I’m too good for the position, or I’m barking up the wrong tree entirely. I’m planning on scaling back Imagic Design—if you can scale back something that’s all but dormant. The business bank account will be closed (it costs money to run, after all), and I’ll deregister from VAT (never entirely sure why I registered anyway). I am considering moving into other areas of likely income, all the while looking for any job that pays me a regular wage. Something’ll turn up.

Anyway, I’m sure I’ll share my journey here, assuming I can get off my arse and make a go of things.

Penny-puss update

Penny, woken from a snooze on the bed over the weekend.

Penny, woken from a snooze on the bed over the weekend.

Back in October last year, I related the story of our cats, and in particular our poorly puss, Penny. It’s time for an update.

The bad news first. Poor old Pingle is never going to be totally well again. She’s now all but blind—though that doesn’t seem to bother her unduly. Her tummy problem may never clear up completely, and we have to accept she’s not going to be with us for ever.

The good news, though, is the restricted diet, with medical assistance, has cleared up the poop and puke issues we were having. A boring diet of minced-up grilled chicken breast, with the odd sneaked mouthful of normal cat food (which we let her sneak, because it helps prevent her getting constipated) has worked wonders. No more surprises in awkward places, Penny now manages to perform her duties in her tray in plenty of time, and we’ve begun to award scores between 0 and 10 for the results! (0 being a mess, 10 being a perfect poop. I know, we’re a bit sad like that.)

The vet was very pleased with her progress. The medical treatment had been vitamin, antibiotic and steroid injections, sufficient for nearly a month at a time and a convenient way to avoid the vagaries of giving pills orally. After two treatments, Penny was eating well, and her tummy had calmed down. After our last consultation we agreed to leave the treatment out for a spell to see how things behaved.

So far, we’ve been scoring 3s and 5s, so we may need the treatment again in a couple of weeks. All in all, though, we’re generally pleased that Penny is as comfortable as we can make her. When the weather gets better, we’ll let her wander down the garden for a bit. Considering we didn’t expect Pingle to see Christmas through, we’re pretty happy with the way things are turning out.

Link to previous story.

Finally, apologies for the lack of posts of late. I’ve been a bit out of sorts with the internet in general, and I’ve also had a modelling project to keep me occupied away from the screen.

Penny-puss

We have two cats that live with us. We homed them from our local Cats Protection rescue centre, like all the moggies we’ve had before. The current pair, Sophie and Penny, also affectionately known as Charlie and Pingle, have been with us since Easter 2007. They came as a set, even though they are not related as far as we can tell. Sophie seemed to be the dominant one, always on the lookout for a vacant lap, howling for attention and so on. Penny was quiet, a bit introverted, and would accept a cuddle, but only on her terms. Over the years, though, it’s become obvious that Penny is the eldest, and therefore was Top Cat. Penny frequently put Sophie in her place, usually with a paw round the ear. Penny also came out of her shell, and turned out to be an adorable, cuddly moggy who loved to be nearby keeping an eye on what you were doing.

Our previous homings had been fairly poorly, and didn’t live long with us before they were called to the Great Cat Flap In The Sky. Penny and Sophie are pretty healthy. Well, Penny is actually quite a bit older than Sophie—we’ll never know exactly how old—and she’s now really showing her age.

We noticed things weren’t quite right when her poop wasn’t as solid as it ought to be. We also noticed she seemed confused and unable to march confidently about the place as she had done of old. We took her to the vet, who kept her in for blood tests and treatment. Everything seemed to check out fairly well, apart from being a bit anaemic and dehydrated. Penny got a course of antibiotics, but was otherwise deemed fit. Sophie didn’t like the way Penny ponged of vets, hissing and growling at her. That earned Sophie a black mark from the staff, that’s for sure.

We’ve worked out Penny has colitis, which means she’s not able to absorb all the moisture from the regular cat food (which is, frankly, mostly water anyway). This was why her poop was so bad. The antibiotics also gave her some incredible flatulence, resulting in some remarkable noises and equally remarkable fragrances from such a relatively small cat! Explosive puss poop and pongs! Not helping was Penny’s inability to point her backside in the right direction when in her litter tray. I have become resigned to clearing up spillages when I get up of a morning. At least it’s a laminate floor around her tray!

I checked on the internetz, and worked out what we might be able to do about Pingle’s poorly tummy. I checked with the vet to make sure they agreed with the diagnosis and recommended treatments. Penny has now been put on a special diet of biscuits which contain turkey and rice. Sophie, meanwhile, is still on the same old cat food diet, and it’s quite a job preventing Penny from piling her nose into Sophie’s bowl at feeding time!

It’s been a couple of weeks now, and things are beginning to improve. Penny is putting on a bit of weight again, and is more or less back to her old self again. The poop is improving slightly, wich makes it less of a chore to tidy up. Sadly, one thing isn’t getting better, and that’s her eyesight.

Penny seems to have lost most of her vision. She seems to be aware of contrasts, but she’s very wary when approaching things like steps, or changes in colour on the floor. An exploratory paw comes out and feels about before taking the next step. She’ll merrily blunder into legs, or Sophie—which is rewarded with a hiss and a growl—but she knows the local area well enough that she can find her way about fairly well. She can still hop over the boundary fence into our neighbour’s garden. She can hop up on to the window sill—though she will occasionally misstep and take a tumble to the floor. More importantly, she knows exactly where her food bowl lives.

We are slowly becoming accustomed to caring for a geriatric puss. Penny-puss must be well into her teens now. She’s still adorable, and still loves a cuddle, but we must accept the fact things may never be the way they were when that timid little tabby came into our lives. Eventually, her spring will run down. We’re not sure whether to find a replacement, since Sophie may not agree, or whether to just put up with Sophie alone until it’s her turn to leave us. It’s been a blast having two feline friends around the place, but I think I’d be happier with just the one next time we look to home a cat.

A bit quiet

Hello. I am still here. I haven’t been anywhere particularly thrilling, or done anything massivley amazing. 

Even so, I have decided to get things moving with a local photo walk thing I’ve been mulling. I spread the word on Google+ and I have been blown away by the support. Okay, it’s not going to be dozens of people, but I am happy if we reach a manageable ten or so. 

I have been trying to learn to code HTML and CSS, with reasonable success. I’m not doing it because I enjoy it, more so I have a much better handle on what other tools I use for web design are trying to do. I would like to create a whole web site from scratch using the techniques I have been learning, but I don’t think that’s going to happen for a while. It’s too easy to fall back on the tried and tested software to do it for me.

Since my DSLR can record HD video, I have been learning more about how to get the best out of it. There’s plenty on the interwebz specifically aimed at the Canon EOS 7D, so I now have a pretty good idea what the machine is capable of, and what all the different buttons are supposed to do! I really want to make another short film, but I don’t have a good idea for a storyboard yet. 

So, while I haven’t been posting all and sundry here, I have actually been trying to improve my knowledge and understanding on various subjects. If there’s one thing I love, it’s being an autodidact.

Thought Of The Day | Thoughts Of Angel

Sometimes I wake up grumpy… Other times I let her sleep!

Every Tube Station (and overground line station, for that matter) has a noticeboard in the entrance. The idea is to pass along information about the services, delays, latest closures and incidents and so on.

The staff of Angel Tube Station use it to provide a daily dose of thoughtfulness and humour. There’s a web site cataloguing every daily “thought”. Not surprisingly, there’s a Twitter feed, Facebook page and a form to let you send in suggestions.

It’s little things like this that can make life just that little bit nicer. Don’t you agree?