Down the Drain

I thought my disaster days were over.

Today I started to cook lunch with the best of intentions. While something was heating in the oven, I had a clear-up in the kitchen. I took some dirty dishes to the sink, but the sink was already full. With the old dishwasher, I got into the habit of soaking everything before washing it.

So, I had to put the soaked contents of the sink in the dishwasher. Only problem was, the dishwasher had clean dishes in it from the last time. So the first task was to put these dishes away. I use a Pyrex  measuring jug to make my porridge each day, so got two of these jugs out of the dishwasher to put into the cupboard. Then, disaster struck. I must have misjudged the distance to the shelf, and one of the bowls fell onto the ground and immediately shattered into 1000 pieces. All over the floor, things that had been left on the floor, the cats’ food bowls, the works. I’m shrieking at all this.

No reaction from wife, who is next door in the lounge. I later learn she is oblivious, listening to music, complete with earphones.

So, I’m left to clear everything. Fortunately I remembered where the dustpan and brush were – the hoover clogs in 2 seconds when confronted with broken glass, so started brushing the floor. It probably took about fifteen minutes, I had to do it sitting on a small stool, moving the stool around the floor. It was difficult to stop my dodgy leg from messing up the pile of glass I’d just swept up and was trying to manoeuvre into the dustpan. I had to fix the dustpan with my feet, because of course I only have one hand available.

Everything which had been in contact with the glass had to be cleaned, so all the cats’ things went into the sink. Well, except the sink was still full.

You can imagine how fatigued I was, doing all this. (And the oven had long since beeped to tell me that lunch was ready.) I’m doing my  best not to lose my temper. It finally gave way when I’m trying to access the taps to re-fill the sink, except I can’t because some idiot (probably me) me) had left some pans on the draining board to stop the taps from moving. The pans were hurled across the kitchen. One of them then broke a couple of glasses belonging to my wife, but by them I didn’t give a shit. More work, collateral damage. I gave up on the idea of lunch.

I finally had some lunch after probably an hour or so. Cold. Shit. The trouble is, the injections I take require me to eat something. At least I’d calmed down.

In the middle of all this, I’m raging at how useless my wife is, I could have really used some help, and she is responding in kind, thinking I broke her glasses deliberately. Once everything was calm, I had to order two replacement glasses, plus of course a replacement Pyrex jug. What a brilliant way to spend my disability benefit, and to spend an afternoon overall.

Honoured

We feel honoured. One of the cats has taken to leaving us little rodent presents. He’s always been a hunter, but he’s now taken to leaving them in the porch, just the other side of the cat-flap.

The weird thing is, they’re left with a garnish, a few leaves or a bit of grass. I mean, we know he leaves the rodents for us, but does he see the vegetables we eat for supper and think “they’re a funny lot, these humans, eating this green stuff”? Does anyone else find this? Our’s can leave us anything from maybe two or three rodents per day, to a rodent every two or three days, and maybe 50% of the time, they come with garnish, so I don’t think it’s accidental.

Sleep

My hospital stay was a long time ago now, around 3½ years, but it had a profound effect on my sleeping patterns.

As I’ve said before in this blog, I was in for about five weeks. Not insignificant, though I’ve known plenty of people who’ve been in longer. The regime in hospital was quite a simple one. Evening meal around 5 o’clock, thereafter, there was no therapy or doctors. So basically it all went quiet. There were TVs if somebody wanted to watch, there may be family visits, and a lot of people just dozed, it really wasn’t unusual for a lot of people to doze pretty much all the time. Nurses finally turned lights out at around 10pm, and all was dark – not quiet! – until the day shift nurses arrived in time to start at about 7:30am.

So, really, the evening meal was early, 5-ish, and after that, a lot of patients were asleep.

Obviously 5:30-6ish is ridiculously early to go to bed, but even after just a month in hospital, it rubbed off on me. I distinctly remember early days at home, struggling to stay awake beyond this time. In the early days, there was lots of sleep!

Even all this time later, I’m thinking of bed shortly after 9pm, and certainly don’t go beyond 10pm. It works out on the other side, too – this morning, for example, I woke up just before 5am, and got up just after. But that’s because we’re in the middle of summer – it’s different in December, though I always try to be up by 8am.

I remember in the early days. If I was doing something particularly engrossing, I’d stay awake, but otherwise, I liked a nap every afternoon. Nowadays I don’t nap. And, of course, nowadays I’m doing something engrossing every day – I write computer sodtware from home, on my own. That’s probably every bit as challenging as my previous life, although being home alone presents its own issues. The charity work has helped in that respect too – not particularly challenging intellectually, but in easing myself back into a “work” environment. For everybosy who volunteers, it is work and people strive to be just as useful as when they were paid.

Let’s Be Careful Out There

One of my favourite TV shows as a kid was Hill Street Blues. It used to be on late, probably at 10:30pm on a Wednesday or Thursday night. I remember I used to rush home to see it – at that stage I must’ve been fifteen or sixteen, but I watched it for several years. My favourite character was undoubtedly one called Mick Belker, played by Bruce Weitz. He was a detective, and used to growl when he was pissed at someone!

I was overjoyed a few years ago when the box set of every single show was released, and one of the things I did when I was convalescing from the stroke was to re-watch them all. Brilliant, very Eighties, was reputed to be set in Chicago but they never gave that away. I think it kicked off a very long career for the writers, though I never saw much of the actors again.

Russians

A shout-out this morning to my Iranian friends, who are most likely fed exactly the same propaganda by their government, their media, as I am, and who probably have as little idea of truth as I do.

Clarity

I don’t actually do as much these days, but I think about things a whole lot more.

Somebody the other day asked me about my views on religion. I gave my stock response – that if somebody decided to embrace a religion, then that was fine. Would likely be very positive for them, in fact. But they need to understand that they’re only really qualified to make the decision for themselves, not anybody else. So I have no time for somebody who tries to convince somebody else to adopt their beliefs. The fundamental premise, that what I believe is better than what you believe, is wrong.

To me, anyway. This is a view I’ve held for decades, so I’m perfectly comfortable with it.So, I’m perfectly comfortable with the principle that, what somebody decides is good for them, is nobody else’s business.

I can quite neatly apply this rule to sexuality. If a pair of people do something with each other, and they both consent, what business is it of mine, what they do? Because I’m not involved.

However, I leave my comfort zone at that point. Because of one specific issue – the environment. I’m happy to do what I can – less meat, no flying etc. But, actually, I want the next person to do rheir bit too. When they pollute the environment, I have a problem with it. Because ultimately, their actions will affect me.

In the same vein, I see a conflict with, say, the Extinction Rebellion protesters. My gut feel is that they should not be disrupting people or businesses, but in their defence, those businesses are actively harming the environment, which sustains us all, not just those businesses. It might not be obvious now, because from day-to-day, we don’t see it with our eyes, but science is quite readily detecting it in all sorts of areas. Not just change, but change which has been brought about by mankind. One might hope that companies would understand that their ability to make any kind of long-term profit would depend upon having a benign environment in which to operate, but making a buck as easily as possible always wins the day.

I suppose you can’t blame a business for thinking in this way – their goal is to deliver growth for their shareholders, it doesn’t surprise me one bit that they are interested in the next two years, not the next two hundred – but it does highlight to me that governments have a role to play, by constructing the framework in which businesses exist. It should be governments who are forcing businesses to behave in the best interests of their electorate. I leave it to you to decide whether my government, or yours, is doing this. I suppose because governments themselves only last for a few years, there’s not much imperative for them to put the environment at the top of their list.

It’s funny, I sometimes start writing these posts, sometimes to tease out my own ideas, without any particular known result. I find it easier, to set things out in print. Certainly on this one, I feel I can support the Extinction Rebellion, because businesses are not just making a buck, they are harming something in which we all have a vested interest.

More tea, vicar?

Only last week (but a few posts ago now) I wrote the post Connected, My experiments with home technology. A brief recao: I got one of these home hubs on offer (£25), thought “How far can I take this?” and found a smart ligbt bulb on Ebay (£10), got it working (i.e. controlled by my voice). Then I thought “How much further can I take this?” and botght a smart electric switch on eBay (another £10).

The switch arrived yesterday. It plugs into your normal, unadulterated, electrical wall socket, that you’ve been using these last forty or fifty years. This smart switch is itself a socket. Into it, you plug your very unsmart kettle, which you’ve been using these last forty or fifty years. The purpose of a smart socket? It acts as a switch between the wall and the kettle, but controlled over wi-fi. You tap an app on your phone, the switch turns on, the kettle boils. Tap it again, everything switches off.

The only real “smart” on my part was: when the light bulb arrived, it came with instructions to download an app to my phone (called Smart Life). This was part of the setting-up process. With only one device, it didn’t much matter what that app was, other than the end result was that it could be connected to my Google account, controlled by my new Google Home Mini device, and my voice. It was clear, though, that this app could control many (hundreds, I think) devices if I set them up, so when I got the switch, I looked for one which could be controlled by the same app. I didn’t want to have one app for my bedroom light, another for the switch, a third for some other light, and so on. So I looked on the web. This wasn’t trivial, in that it took two or three hours, but hey, it was only looking at web pages. Eventually I found some switches (eBay again) which mentioned that they were controlled by this particular app.

They duly arrived yesterday, and because they were controlled by an app I had already set up, it took less than a minute. I set the switch up in the bedroom, where the wi-fi is signal nice and strong, and was duly able to turn the switch on and off from my phone. Because Smart Life was already linked to Google, with my voice too. I then moved the switch into the kitchen, where the wi-fi signal from that network is much weaker (I set up different wi-fi networks so that the whole house is covered, the kitchen it covered by a different network. I know I could improve this now, but at the time I set up the wireless networks, it was the best option).

Anyway, I plugged the kettle into the switch, and….hey presto!

So, this morning I was able to kick-start my first cup of tea by speaking to my hub, from in my bed. ‘Course, I still had to pour the hot water into the cup myself.

With the light bulb, there is an element of it stopping me from banging into things in the dark, so I can argue a case for that. But with the switch, this is pure decadence, and really was an experiment, to see how far I could go. I am impressed that I’ve come this far, having not spent £50!

No Tomorrow

Whenever we need some “proper” shopping, we head about 20 miles away to Southampton. It’s a far better for shopping than nearby Salisbury.

My wife was looking for some new earphones today, so off we headed. A mediocre shopping list – return some clothing, look for the earphones, then go to the Decathlon for some tee-shirts to wear at the gym (her, not me!).

We went mid-morning, and by lunchtime we were done. Seeing as we were out, my wife suggested getting some lunch. Me being me, I agreed.

Most of our shopping had been done in a mall called West Quay, so we decided to lunch there. We found an American-styled burger place called Five Guys. I’d never heard of the place before, although from its web site, it looks like a US chain which has opened up in the UK. They had a decent-looking menu, and I decided to eat meat for the meal.

The order was a burger (wife) and a hot dog (me). We shared a portion of fries, and I had a milk shake and wife a fizzy drink.

Going through this one-by-one, both the burger and the dog came wrapped in foil. The fries came in a polystyrene cup. Wife’s drink came in one of those paper-impregnated-with-plastic cups, and my drink came in a pure plastic cup, complete with plastic straw and lid. The drinks came immediately, but the food came all together, in a paper bag.

I suppose these guys deserve a round of applause for using paper bags, not plastic. But the goodness stops just about there. Foil is indeed recyclable (let’s forget for a minute that re-using is preferable to re-cycling), except I saw people eat their burger, scrunch their foil wrappers into a ball, place back in the bag, then the bag scrunched up and put in their bin. So I wonder just how much of that foil gets recycled? A polystyrene cup, used once then also put into their trash. My drink – three pieces of plastic, used once then thrown away. Lastly, my wife’s drink. In exactly the same kind of single-use cup that ethical coffee chains have refused to use.

The only area in which I have questions here is in how we encourage people to use resources more wisely. I don’t like to run towards taxing everything to force people to change their habits, but taxing plastic bags certainly had the right effect. Maybe if cafes are forced to charge £50 for their foil-wrapped burgers, they’ll think twice?