…giving Facebook another go. Just for a few days. Just to see if it might be in any way useful these days.
From deepest, darkest Anecdotia.
Today I went to my Aunt Rachel’s funeral. I wasn’t quite sure what I was doing there, to be honest. She was never interested in me, my sister or my son, and I was never interested in her. There were no specific things about her that I disliked, we just had nothing in common.
I spent most of the ceremony sat in the front row feeling like a fraud. Behind me were rows and rows of people, Rachel’s friends. I expect that most of them didn’t even know that she had a nephew. I felt that they were her real family, not me. They were the ones who would miss her. I sat and listened, feeling a lump in my throat here and there, looking to my left to gauge my dad’s reaction, to my right to see my sister’s. My dad was staring ahead, his face betraying no emotion. My sister would catch my eye whenever I turned to her, her face reading as something like “assuming that you’re thinking the same thing as me, then yes, I agree.” Anyone with a sibling will know that one.
As the ceremony ended, the first person to leave was John, her husband. And as he passed in front of me, I saw an expression in his face that turned the whole afternoon on its head. There was the determination of a man who was focussed on making sure that his wife got the send-off that she would have wanted. There was the relief of a man who was glad that his wife’s 20 month dalliance with cancer was over. And there was the despair of a man who had lost the woman that he loved, the one that he had chosen, the one that he had lived every day with. I realised – there’s a man that has lost his Karen.
And my concerns about feeling like a fraud were suddenly insignificant.
Incidentally, Rachel’s decision to have Relax by Frankie Goes to Hollywood played as her coffin was removed from a black motorcycle sidecar and carried into the crematorium was fucking awesome. I shit ye not.
Systematic use of a diary
At the end of May I received my new Moleskine diary. It runs from July 2008 to the end of December 2009. Here’s an image that I used back then:
Look at those red fingers. Either I had sunburn, or I’m crap with photo editing software.
As you can see, the left hand page is divided horizontally into seven sections. The top one is basically unallocated, the next five are Monday to Friday, and the last one is divided vertically for Saturday and Sunday. The right hand page is narrowly ruled.
I’ve adopted the following system.
I use the top section of the left hand page for all-week reminders. For instance, if I’m on holiday that week, then I write it in there.
I then use the other sections on that page for appointments and tasks that need to be done on a certain day. I also use it to keep records of things like important letters sent or major purchases made on that day.
On the right hand page, I keep a todo list for non-urgent tasks. I start from the bottom of the page and work my way up. To the left of each item is a space for a tick (when the task is completed), cross (if the task is no longer necessary) or an arrow (if the task remains unfinished at the end of the week and needs carrying forward to the next week).
The space at the top of the right-hand page is then free for general notes and ideas.
This system is working out really well for me. Maybe you can use it as the basis for your own system! Oh, the pleasure!
A startlingly interesting bike ride
Usually the number of interesting things that happens during my 4 mile commute is some non-negative integer n where n = n mod 2. But today, three interesting things happened! Well, not that interesting, but there were three of them!
1. There’s a decomposing animal which I have been monitoring since Friday. On Friday it was still vaguely recognisable as an animal, albeit a dead one with a gaping hole in its chest, exposing its ribs. It has gradually withered to a disgusting clump of fur and bones and flies. This evening, there was a man stood over it, looking at it with intense interest. He appeared to be poking at it with his shoe. I gave him a wide berth, because he was clearly a bit crazy.
2. About halfway through, I crossed paths with a friend of mine, who was out for a run with a buddy. Both of us were travelling at intense speed in opposite directions, so we barely had time to exchange one-word greetings. Usually the only people that I cross paths with are dog walkers (in the morning) and other cyclists. I’ve noticed that the cycling commuters tend to be male, hideously ugly, frowny as all fuck out, and generally about as lively as the decomposing animal which I mentioned before. The non-commuting cyclists tend to be wearing skin-tight brightly coloured shit. Some wear reflective sunglasses, and pass you without acknowledging your presence, but the rest of them smile and say hello or g’day. I am always friendly, of course.
3. The last 1.5 miles (first 1.5 miles in the morning) goes through town. Cycling down the road at about 15mph, a black Merc pulled out of a side road a few metres in front of me. I pulled to a smooth stop by his door, my face betraying no emotion. In retrospect, my mind played through a few alternative scenarios, the most entertaining of which involved me leaping off of my bike, allowing it to crash into his car, smashing the window and denting the door. I would then insist that he then pays me Â£30 to replace my twisted bicycle. Silly scenario, off with you.
So there you have it. Three events, none of which would be interesting enough for a blog post on their own, but they combine like Power Rangers into something that is still not interesting enough to merit a blog post.
Ah, fuck it. Publish.
Lack of alcohol tolerance
In the years since University, my exposure to alcohol has steadily dropped… and dropped… and dropped. A part of me wishes that I’d logged my units, because it would be interesting to see exactly how much I am drinking compared to back then. Is it half as much? A fifth? A tenth?
Either way, it shows. On Wednesday night I drank about four pints of Abbot Ale (5%). My wife tells me that I was noticeably drunk from the moment that I staggered through the front door. I had quite a hangover in the morning, and couldn’t stand up for more than a few minute without feeling queasy. Fortunately, once I had done the whole coffee, toast, shower, brush teeth routine, things started picking up quickly.
If only the younger me could see me now. “What happened to you, old man?” he’d say. “Four pints? You shouldn’t be having a hangover after four pints!”
The way I see it, I have the following options:
1. Drink more beer. Get my tolerance back up.
2. Drink less beer. Limit myself to two or three pints a night, either by alternating with non-alcoholic drinks, or drinking slower.
3. Keep getting hangovers on those rare occasions (once a month, ish) when I go out.
Joy of joys, last Sunday I went into Dyas and found that they now stock plug-through energy meters for Â£10 apiece (apparently Â£13 on the website).
First device to get measured up was the fridge, which we found to be consuming about 0.4 KWh per day (average over a 4 day period). We took a vacuum cleaner hose to the coils at the back, and found that the usage dropped to about 0.33 KWh per day (also measured over 4 days).
Next up is my computer. Even before anything was switched on, I was finding a draw of 11 W, which I guess is just the power supply keeping itself alive. Once the computer is switched on and settled down, this is up to 70 W. Turning on the monitor takes us up to 110 W, speaker system up to 113 W, desk lamp up to 160 W.
I was surprised by how much more energy the computer consumes than a fridge. We are always being told how the fridge is such a significant slurper of juice, yet having a computer on round the clock equates to having five fridges, and that’s without the monitor switched on. Putting it into standby or hibernate mode obviously reduces this greatly, but that’s not much help if you are actually using the thing. Maybe our fridge is just phenomenally efficient. Your mileage will vary, obviously – the odds are that your computer isn’t an AMD Sempron 3000+ with three hard drives in it.
What should I measure next?
A while ago, Karen and I had a fantastic idea. Bernard used to enjoy playing with our wallets, so we gave him one of my old ones. We filled it with old train tickets etc to give it that authentic walletness.
Last week, we had ordered a curry and Karen was upstairs hushing Bernard back to sleep. I was tidying up the sitting room, and saw Bernard’s wallet and toy mobile phone on the coffee table. I tossed them into his toybox and thought nothing more of it.
When the curry arrived, Karen got into a bit of a panic when she couldn’t find her wallet. I didn’t have enough cash in mine to pay the guy at the door. After a while, he got tired of waiting while we turned the place upside down, so he told us that he’d leave us to it, and phone us later on to get our credit card number.
Mere seconds after he’d driven off, it all clicked into place in my head. I lifted Bernard’s wallet out of his toybox and put it back on the coffee table.
Happy 5th anniversary, Karen. Looking forward to the next 50.
As I may have mentioned before, my wife likes to go to bed at about 10pm. For the most part, I am happy to stay up a bit later.
Recently, I have been finding that one of the following things happens:
1. At 10pm, she goes to bed. I’m tired too, so I go to bed as well.
2. At 10pm, she goes to bed. I can’t think of anything important that needs doing, so I figure that I might as well get a bit of extra sleep too.
3. At 10pm, she goes to bed. I’m not ready to go to bed yet, so I kill a bit of time before going to bed at 11pm. Last night, for instance, I fiddled about with the oven timer and then played Gran Turismo 3 for half an hour.
4. At 10pm, she goes to bed. I fancy watching a film, so I do that, and join her at midnight.
I remember how I used to have all sorts of interesting projects on the go, and would beaver away industriously until midnight or 1am, before finally, reluctantly, retiring to bed. But I don’t seem to have any such project happening right now. Also, whereas once I would happily spod for hours, I no longer gain pleasure from twiddling my e-thumbs. Which is why I find myself at 10pm with no appealing options, other than “get some sleep”.
I’m old, boring, and curmudgeonly.
A curmudgeon with an Oxford comma, mind.
I’m an idiot. I just booked a dentist appointment for the same day that I was planning to send the car into the garage for its service and MOT. I need my car to get to the dentist.
UPDATE: I’m not an idiot. I’m going to send the car into the garage two days earlier.
It’s been a busy week, which is why things have been quiet round here. Here’s what’s been going down.
Karen and I have spent a lot of time on the allotment. Whereas it did look like this, it now looks like this:
We’ve cleared a lot of brambles, dismantled the rotted cold frame, had a big bonfire, and put some carpet down to suppress weeds. We also found some rhubarb of the variety *Hey, Free Rhubarb!* and planted it in an appropriate location. It’s progress, definitely.
My first MP3 player
On Wednesday I got my first ever MP3 player. As you can see, I’m right on the cutting edge here.
It’s not even a state-of-the-art device. It’s a Creative Zen Stone, a little thing with 2 GB of storage and no LCD display. For Â£30, you can’t go far wrong. I also got a little FM transmitter so that I can play it through my car stereo, which is now over 5 years old.
While investigating a faulty kitchen light, I think that I may have accidentally electrocuted myself. I have a small blister on my thumb, and one on my forefinger, where I pinched a screw. As far as I can see, it’s not radiating heat, so electrocution seems the likely candidate. In hindsight, it should have been obvious that said screw would be live.
Playing Tomb Raider
I rented Tomb Raider Anniversary for a week. I played the original, many years ago, and it’s interesting to see what has been added and what has been taken away. I’ve bought a second hand copy so that I can complete it at my leisure.
Teaching Bernard to spell his name
Not putting too much pressure on him at this early stage, obviously, but it does yield such gems as this one:
Me: “No, that’s not an ‘r’, it’s an ‘n’.”
Bernard: “Buck, buck.”
Me: “Heh, not ‘hen’. ‘N’.”