Work Gone By

My friend with a thundering roar,
Was difficult to ignore,
He was very effective,
At giving directives,
And could even be heard from next door!

I think that poems are like jokes – they don’t work if you need to explain them. Suffice it to say, I once worked with a chap who had a really loud voice, so they made him a Fire Warden!

Fandango’s Provocative Question (30 September 2020)

I could set my clock by Fandango’s Provocative Question (actually, I probably could, although I never tried). But Wednesay’s mean just one thing. Today, Fandango asks:

Do you believe in karma (or a similar “reap what you sow” notion)? Why or why not?

Ha, karma. Nice idea, but…

I’ll keep this one short, and just use a few examples to illustrate what I think.

Hitler? How many deaths did he cause? Was it sufficient payback that he lost his own life at the end of the war? Joe Stalin, perhaps? Stalin didn’t even come to a grizzly end, so you could argue that there wasn’t even any payback in that case.

Pol Pot? It is estimated that the revolution caused almost 2 million Cambodian deaths, Pol Pot suffered a year of incarceration before he died in 1998 at the respectable age of 72.

Let’s bring things up to date. George W Bush? Tony Blair? Did they get karma for the wars they prosecuted in Iraq and Afghanistan? No, they are living in retirement as very rich men. All the current world leaders, will they get karma for the additional deaths caused by their own incompetence during COVID?

Karma? Meh…

My Own Provocative Questions

These are not really meant for anybody to answer. I mean, you’re welcome to if you feel the urge (but please don’t try doing so in a comment!), but just some things I’ve been mulling over as a result of an unsatisfactory conversation I had with my doctor’s surgery yesterday.

I am overdue an annual blood test. With the virus, everything has slipped. My wife, who is a nurse at the surgery, offered to take my blood this week, she’d bring the gear home. Initially, I was on for this, but this conversation made me stop and think.

I use my surgery’s portal to order meds each month – the point here is that, security-wise, it is considered safe enough to allow me to log on and order meds, it is happy that I am bona-fide. I notice, on the portal, there is a page for test results. If I click on that page, I get a message that “test results are not enabled on this account”. and that I should contact the surgery to set it up. Fair enough.

Now, I already talked to my wife. I mean, it is somebody else’s job to put the details onto the system, but her gut feel is that our surgery does not make use of this “test result” functionality.

So, playing ignorant, I contacted the surgery. I asked whether it was possible to set me up. My wife was correct in that this was certainly very unusual, and the guy I spoke to had no clue either, but said he’d find out.

In the end, he advised me that it could happen. But… if I wanted to view the results online, I would have to ask the doctor’s permission.

Permission? This made me stop and think. I have a blood test. My blood. The NHS then processes the blood and comes out with a set of numbers. Who then owns those numbers? While the NHS applies the processing, the numbers will be unique to me, in fact, without me, there would be no numbers. So my gut feel is that those numbers belong mostly to me. And, if so, why do I need anybody’s permission to see them? Put another way, what right does a doctor have to deny somebody that permission?

Now, I have to be careful how I go along this route. They could turn around and say, “okay, if you do not have the test, then we cannot safely prescribe any further meds”, and so my supply will dry up. And the conclusion will be that sooner or later, I will have another stroke. So, I need to think about this some.

But it’s an interesting question*. Not one we often think about, but when we have a test (blood or otherwise), who actually owns the results? In some ways, here, a more commercially-oriented system would be better, because the lines are not so blurry. But even in some place like the US, who actually owns the data there? The patient? Or, the insurance company?

And it goes along the same lines as one I thought about as a result of COVID, when people in various places were unable to see their loved-ones bodies after death – who actually owns our body?

I’ve told my wife I’ll hold fire on the test for the moment, I need to puzzle this one out. But I have to say, the more I learn about the NHS, the less I like about it.

* – interesting to a geek like me

Fandango’s One Word Challenge (30 September 2020)

I’m always relieved when someone is delivering a eulogy and I realize I’m listening to it.

George Carlin, US Comedian

for Fandango’s One Word Challenge (FOWC), eulogy.

Smart or Scandalous?

Can I get a feel on how bad people think this is?

For the last couple of days, a news programme here has been highlighting a database of voters.

The database is big – 5,000 Gigabytes – and is eerily accurate.

The political party recorded people’s main issues, and as a result put each voter into one of about eight categories. They had the extremes – definitely one of us or definitely not one of us, but it is the grey area where it gets interesting.

“People who might vote for us” were specifically targetted with things like Facebook ads extolling the virtues of their candidate.

“People who probably won’t vote for us” were sent different ads, encouraging them not to vote at all.

You can hopefully see that if these strategies paid off, they would both benefit that political party.

Where I’m not convinced is that our news programme seems to think it is a bad thing. I look at it and just think it is smart.

Surely, as a political party, you have limited resources – time and/or money – it makes sense to keep as comprehensive a database as possible? Surely it makes sense to understand what people’s issues are? Surely it makes sense to make sure that potential supporters vote for you? And that potential “not-supporters” do not vote for your opponents.

I don’t know, it just seems smart to do all these things, as far as I can tell. Every political party should be doing this, surely? Anybody have a view on this?

Close Call

for Fandango’s One Word Challenge (FOWC), ensconced.

Cheerily catching up with my blog,
Almost done, with no backlog.
Through my posts I lazily stumble,
I hear my neighbour’s bin go runble.

It’s not my fault, I was ensconced,
But action must be my response,
I’d clean forgotten that today’s the day,
They come and take our bin away!

I jolt alert. I pull away,
Because today is Garbage Day!
In a trice I’m up and on my feet,
I must get the bin onto the street!

You never saw me move so fast,
As the seconds, they go ticking past.
It’s a quarter to, I have some time,
And so begins the pantomime.

Today it is recycling waste,
As I reach the driveway in my haste,
In my dressing gown I come alive,
And wheel the bin along the drive.

As I finish up I start to wane,
But at least the bin is in the lane.
When at last the task is now complete,
I see the cart come up the street.

Phew!

We’ve all been there.

Our Imminent Garden Party

for Fandango’s One Word Challenge (FOWC), imminent.

Two friends are coming tomorrow night,
Just to the garden, I think that’s right.
I’ve just been out to cut the grass,
When our guests arrive, it will look first-class.

My wife, of course, she wants to greet,
But she’s overdone it with the treats.
We have peanuts, tortillas, and if it’s chilly,
Some veggie samosas and beef chilli.

I suspect there’ll be too much on display,
But it will last ’til Wednesday.
With a knowing look, I smile with glee.
Because all that food is destined for me!

Blogging Insights #48 (28 September 2020)

This prompt is the brainchild of Dr Tanya over at Salted Caramel. I’ve recently started following Tanya and her questions are really good. This week, she asks:

What mistakes did you make in the first few months of blogging?

Okay, I don’t say mistake, for starters, rather it became more refined. One of those is brevity, it is something I am still learning.

YearPlatformAverage Words Per Post
2017Blogger279
2018Blogger397
2019Blogger / WP442
2020WP294

The brief storyline is that when I started the blog, it was as a diary, to chart my recovery. Posts tended to be “I walked to the shop today”. I had no readers. With no readers anyway, the length hardly matters.

I discovered I quite enjoyed blogging, and in 2018 the posts became broader. Two big themes were politics and job hunting. The posts became longer, but there were still no readers.

2019 started off much the same, with posts on the same subjects. Brexit was a big issue here. Midway through the year I found some WordPress blogs, and in September, I moved my own blog to WordPress. I started getting an audience.

2020 will be my first full year on WordPress. The subject matter is now all over the place. I enjoy taking part in prompts, but I figure that if I have got something interesting to say, then other respondents might have, too, so I try to read other responses. I’ll do so with this question towards the end of the week. If I haven’t got something interesting to say, then why am I posting at all?

As a reader, if their are 20 other responses, and each is just a 3-minute post, then that is an hour to go through them all. Largely because of my eyesight, an hour is a long time to be dealing with a single topic.

So I feel that, as a writer, I should keep my responses short, just in case there are other people like me out there. I don’t know how many people read other responses, I suspect on the smaller prompts, we do. Most of us tend to follow each other, anyway.

You’ll notice that my 2020 number of words per post is dramatically lower, largely driven by this newfound audience. For starters, it is largely international so I tend to (mostly) avoid UK politics. And there has been precious little job hunting to report in 2020, so another topic avoided! But also, I have become better at editing my posts. I like that my posts now have an audience, but I can’t really expect those people to be unconditional. If I want people to read my posts, the very least I can do is to put some effort into making them thrifty with words.

The nature of my blog is different, 2017 to now. I don’t get so hung up about health/progress and use it more as a day-to-day medium. I started responding to a word of the day prompt at the start of UK-lockdown. Posting daily was another way of saying I’m okay and this prompt was the ideal vehicle. As it happens I enjoyed it more than I thought I would, and I’ve gotten into the habit of responding to the prompt using poetry. For one thing, people seem to like them (no idea why), but for another, they are 1-minute posts. So, another example where brevity has been a factor.

It is not necessarily the length of the post. If we’re discussing a detailed topic, then the posts will be long. It is this thrift thing. We could all use a good editor.