Sunday, 1 March 2020

Big Mac and Fries - 01/03/2020

I am sat in a familiar haunt in Bristol, although admittedly it's not a place that I frequent as much as I once did. The Watershed Cafe on the harbour has changed very little for about as long as I can remember. It has the same wooden floors, mostly the same style of seating and retains the same laid back atmosphere as it has done for many years, only going a bit wild a few years ago to introduce some benches that now allow for larger groups of people to comfortably sit together without rearranging the furniture. No one wants to hear the dragging of tables alongside older bones creaking and cracking, not when you are settling into a nice cup of cha with a crisp copy of The Guardian anyhow, and especially not on a weekend. What it does have here is a reliable Internet connection though and it's for that reason that I am now hunkered down in here. My MacBook is fried and is currently on life support linked up to the World Wide Web whilst I have attempted to clear everything down and am attempting a reinstall of the operating system in order to try and breathe some life back into this thing.

Over the last few weeks my computer has been showing signs that all is not well in Mac World. This model is a late 2013 MacBook Pro 13" and I have nursed it through several trials and tribulations over the years, from noisy fans to a glitching keyboard via a couple of display and connection issues.  If anyone tells you that MacBooks are bulletproof I can assure you from painful experience that they are far from this. This...thing has been a proverbial pain in the arse at almost every juncture of it's existence with me, but it's latest problems could well see it taking a trip to the electrical knackers yard before too much longer. Everything on it has noticeably slowed which has forced me into this current line of action, a last ditch attempt to see if the latest updates that had been installed from Apple had forcedly crippled it somehow. It's getting on a bit now after all.

And then there's the speakers. The suddenly and for no apparent reason, blown speakers. Never played loud and kept in a dry, clean environment, it's difficult for you not to think that there is something a bit whiffy going on when seemingly inexplicably after an update everything starts going to tits.

So the MacBook has proved itself to be many things in our time together, but unfortunately bulletproof hasn't been one of them. I just want it to last a little bit longer but god damn it Jim, I'm a blogger not a miracle worker.

The thing is that a new Mac is expensive, prohibitively so at the moment and it's hard to justify the cost of a machine that has lost many of the features which I have found to be useful in the past. USB-C still isn't as widely used as it was maybe intended to be years after it's introduction and to have a machine with out one still means that you are going to be forever reliant on dongles. Also on the new machined there is no built in HDMI socket or SD slot for easy connectivity and yet somehow the price of a like for like model has now ballooned into Hindenburg proportions despite the removal of many of it's useful features. The one thing, and I mean the one thing that even makes me contemplate buying another one of these things again is the operating system. The Mac's biggest selling point at the moment is that despite everything, its flaws and its shortcomings, It's not being shackled by running bloody windows.

That's hardly a glowing endorsement of a product, and to be honest, I'm not sure that it's going to be enough when the time comes to give up on the late 2013 and replace it. When I leave the U.K I will be in need of something that is light for travel, with a good battery life and a good display. Something powerful enough to edit photos and video on and permit me to write up a blog or 50 without fighting me every step of the way.

More than anything though I need something that is going to be reliable, because if I have to see this screen one more time, it's going to be one more time too many.

Aitken out.

Monday, 27 January 2020

Ceasar the day or Waldorf off? - 27 Jan 2019

On Thursday morning I had a visit to see my doctor to see if I could sort out a couple of outstanding issues, the primary one being to find out if any progress had been made on the recent eye endevour, the others were about making the most of the standard 15 minute allotted time slot. I'm what would be described in the property market as a "unique fixer upper", a synonym for "has seen better days".  The answer to the eye progress question was that of a blank expression. The passing of  time that I had hoped might be enough to just about get things moving in the right direction had not proved productive, It was the however the answer that I was expecting, just unique in it's presentation. Other than that It was amazingly non-amazing in it's overall predictability,

Despite the conversation that I had with the specialist I had seen previously, the talk of him writing to my doctor to explain the issues we had conversed upon had not been transcribed or forwarded. The doctor had not received any information to act upon and the result is that nothing is further on now than it had been 6 months ago. In my head I can hear the booming voice of Mike Reid shouting "Run Around" in his uniquely recognisable manner. A reference point that even for me is pushing it somewhat, being about 40 odd years past it' s "best before" date.

So the plan now is for the Doc to contact the Eye Hospital in Bristol to ensure that my annual appointment (now due) doesn't slip too far behind. It might seem a bit anal but this is where I was trying to get an appointment for back in July, before being sent to the opticians to pay too much for glasses I didn't really need and being referred for further checks on pressures that (as luck should have it) turned out to be normal. Hopefully now I will get to see those able to tell me one way or another what my options actually are. But as tick follows tock, it's already been and elongated passage to get to somewhere that I should have been able to reach around 6 months ago, That would have been beneficial for many reasons, not least because I wouldn't be passing my time writing paragraphs permeated with needless butt references for no real reason.

Whatever happens hereon in however, I have reached the point where I definitely want to leave these shores, operation or not. As far as I can tell there has been no further loss in my vision, outside the degradation of the visual acuity and that I can likely attribute to working back in front of a monitor for long periods of thyme. I am finding myself flat and uninspired on many of the days here. A combination of grey vistas and dreary wet streets are hardly nourishing food for the soul. The antisocial behaviour and attitudes by some of those who live in this city are nothing but unwanted croutons on an unsavoury salad. The Tomatoes are cursed with warped skin, the cucumber has lost it's crunch and the potatoes have been contaminated by the colour of the old beetroot and the flavours of watery salad cream that has fused with dill. The whole package in which it is contained is bloated and raised up through it's still fermenting air. If you eat the salad, turn to page 62**. 

I have tentatively started researching again into how I can leave these shores and make a go of it elsewhere, drawing a shortlist of countries where maybe my unique set of skills might be taken on board and appreciated a little more than they are here. As with everything diabetes related, there are always extra considerations for doing things to accommodate the condition. Availability and cost of the treatments and tools to manage it against the potential income is perhaps the most prominent one.

Whilst places such as Vietnam and Thailand might be relatively cheap to live in (by Western standards) and undoubtedly still hold a level of appeal, the cost of drugs and equipment I need to get by is bound to take a hefty chunk of any salary I could initially command. It may be a case that I therefor need to look at places such as Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan or Japan as ways to settle somewhere more interesting than where am now and where I could attain the treatments that I need more easily. But the question then would have to be whether I would be suitable for those places and would they let me grow into a place I wanted to be. Would the place be suitable for me.

The chances of me finding the perfect solution quickly are perhaps, unlike me, a bit on the slim side, but things worth getting to seem to be never easily attained. Importantly I remember hearing on my travels past, a wise lady once* saying that "you never, ever know if you never ever go..." and think she may have been onto something.

Plus , I really have had enough of grey now.

* perhaps more than once.
**Page 62 doesn't talky exist. I'm not Ian Livingstone. If I was however and it did, you would probably find that you have been struck down with stomach cramps to accompany your well deserved sense of self loathing for eating something well past its prime. You are also surrounded by flamed torch weilding elves with a look of menace in their eyes.

Good luck

Sunday, 5 January 2020

2020 Vision. New Decade, New Challenges, Older Me - January 2020.

The travel bag that I brought lays empty 100 miles away from where I am currently located, propped against my old bed and still wrapped in the same plastic sheet that covered it when it was delivered. The urgency of wanting to embark on (what I hoped would have been) a more permanent adventure before I reached the age of 46 years has passed. Time has trundled on relentlessly and I've been left somewhat in it's wake and it may now be a little while before I get the chance to get going again, or regain the desire and energy to do so. I'll just have to see what happens.

The eye situation carries on. It was the beginning of August that the sight in my left eye was deemed ineffective enough to warrant the non-renewal of my UK driving licence. Nearly 5 months since and it's still debatable depending on who you ask, whether an operation to remove the still forming cataract is possible and/or beneficial. The fact that with glasses on I can read the letters on a chart at a certain level means that I have yet to reach the point where the operation is deemed necessary, but of course this doesn't take into account the demise of the peripheral vision which in my case is the aspect that has got progressively worse. The last consultant that examined the eye was amazed that I could see as well as I could through it, given how thick the cataract has become over time, but suggested that there could be a slim chance that the case could be made for the operation to be funded given my circumstances. The case would need to be made through the respective medical channels and the same consultant was also keen enough to point out that he's not known of such a case that has successfully had funding approved for as yet.

Oh boy.

So whilst I wait to see how this saga unfolds, I am working in front of a screen all day, staring at texts for long periods and straining my eyes further. The impact has been that my visual acuity has diminished sharply over the past four months that I have been back in my role, which now perhaps understandably, is leading me to question just how much longer I can, or should, keep pushing on. Initially this was going to be a temporary role until I could get away and it was a situation that suited both parties, the workplace itself being busy but enjoyable most of the time and the people (generally) good fun and affable. There is no shortage of tea to be drunk and "so poor they are funny" jokes being made, but there have been days recently where I am feeling more Donald Pleasence than Steve McQueen. Moments have arisen where briefly, with or without my glasses, my vision hasn't been sharp enough to do my job effectively and have required me to break away from my screen for a while. These blurry moments whilst admittedly rare are an unfortunate development and this again is giving me some food for thought. Not  nice, mouthwateringly succulent food thoughts, but more a dry leathery chewy meat type affair that may eventually need to be spat out. Now all I need is Dickie Attenborough to stick his foot out and trip me up and my work time there will be complete.

So what now?

I've endured a bit of a poor few months health wise, either from a recurring flu type virus or an ongoing bombardment of smaller (but no less effective) illnesses which have managed to beat the crap out of me. This kind of thing has not only hit me physically, but has also drained almost all enthusiasm for learning or pushing any ideas forward. The last couple of weeks however it does seem to have relinquished it's grip enough for me to make small steps forward. For now this involves me making a concerted effort to restoring my health back to where I feel it should be and this task has already begun. I am heavier than I have been for about 8 years or so, which hasn't been helped by a small spike in weight that has happened since putting myself back into training. In the coming weeks and months however I am determined to lose just over 2 stone and whilst this might seem hopeful, I believe it to be doable. It's just going to take a bit more determination and effort than it has done in the past

When this first part of the puzzle starts coming together, hopefully I can start thinking of new ways to move forward. If I can get a decision one way or another on the eye then perhaps that will free up some mental resource for me to be able to work towards something else. I have thought of a few projects that I have almost forced myself into, but none have enthused me in the way that I believe that I need to be enthused in order to make any new venture worthwhile. Perhaps I haven't yet hit on that one thing that is a big enough kick to get things to whirring properly again.

There is the possibility of course that this fabled "thing" doesn't exist anymore, lost in time against an ever grey skyline of dirty rain and dull buildings, uninspired graffiti and tags and the smell of dope endlessly hanging in the Bristol air. I hope beyond hope that this is not the case. Whilst I'm not overly worried yet about what I would do if I ever found the means or desire to leave for a different existence, I am more concerned about what should happen to me if I don't.

Perhaps I could become an Olympic Ski Jumper...