Strange creatures in Exhibition Road

Just over a year ago, in May of 2019, I was making my way from South Kensington Tube, up Exhibition Road past Imperial College, to the Royal College of Music, there to witness a performance which involved GodDaughter2. While making this journey, I encountered this strange creature:

I wonder what that was, I thought to myself from that moment on. Then, while rootling through the photo-archives, as I do, I encountered this taxi-with-advert photo, which seemed to feature the above creature:

Now I had some words to work with, so googling went from difficult to easy, and I began to learn about the One-Eyed Creature. He is one of the stars of a juvenile movie franchise, involving such things as One-Eyed Creatures, but also similar but Two-Eyed Creatures. Despicable Me. Also Despicable Me 2. At around that time, Despicable Me 3 was being plugged. Also there is a Bean Boozled connection, involving some sort of toy. Now that I know I could understand all this, I no longer feel any need actually to do this. How do I feel about having once cared? Despicable Me, that’s how.

I think a symptom of getting old is that you see more and more things that baffle you, and you don’t like the feeling. It’s not that we Oldies really do care about knowing trivia like this. What we care about is not knowing.

Soon after photoing this One-Eyed Creature, I photoed this couple:

I don’t feel quite so Despicable for being entertained by these two, but I still do somewhat. I found a few mentions of them on The Internet, in connection with Halloween. But this was May, so, no reason for them to be out and about in South Kensington. But then again, no reason for them not to be.

Zoom out

I just tried, for the first time, to make Zoom work. I wanted to hear what was said in a virtual meeting I had been invited to “attend”. But, I could hear nothing. I have no microphone, but I just wanted to hear what the others were saying. I could see various familiar faces yapping away, but could hear nothing. My speakers are working fine. (I now have music playing.)

Like all computer programmes, and there are no exceptions whatsoever to this rule – none, Zoom is trivially easy to make work if you know how to work it, and impossible if you do not.

Fucking computers. Trouble is, they know how to do a million things, so you have to be able tell them exactly which of those million things you want. If you fail to do this, which you often do because computers have zero common sense, you’re screwed.

There must a lot of this sort of crap going on just now.

LATER: There must be a lot of this sort of crap going on now because the time-honoured way to solve a problem like this is for a Zoom-savvy person to drop by and show me how to work it. Clunky, but the way to sort it. Except, that can’t now happen. The very problem Zoom was going to solve, not being able to have a proper meeting, is undeployable by me, because I can’t have a proper meeting to make Zoom work.

See what I said yesterday about how cities will never go away. Physical proximity is never going to stop being useful. Never.

Reflection

Not the sort you do inside your brain; the sort you can see:

My photo walks tend to happen in the afternoon and early evening, after I have done morningy things at home. But today I took a quite long walk, quite early in the morning by my getting old standards, in order for the light to be coming from a different direction and thus to photo certain Things better. And of course everything looked a bit different, including the River, because light was bouncing into it and off of it in unfamiliar ways from Things that didn’t usually look like that. It helped that there was hardly a cloud to be seen anywhere in the sky.

When I first got a digital camera I couldn’t photo The Wheel enough. What a great Thing. But soon I realised that just photoing the Thing itself wasn’t good enough. You had to play photo-games with it in some way. Line it up with other Things, seen through it. Or reflect it, in a window for instance. Or water.

I like how the foreground foliage blots out any direct view of the Thing itself.

The above photo was just one of my favourites so far from today’s expedition. There were other nice photos also, but the above will suffice for now.

Anyone know what those two little golden crosses are, in the River? Image googling for “golden cross”, got me nowhere helpful.

Time tricks

When I woke up yesterday, I could have sworn it was Friday. And I at once did two things. I checked for an incoming email telling me when a food delivery would happen, which wasn’t there. Odd. And, I did a blog posting about a bird photo. On a Thursday rather than on a Friday, Friday being my usual day for such things.

I’m not the only one suffering time derangement. I am hearing this lots, in the course of all the phone calls with friends and relatives I am doing to stay in touch. People everywhere are losing all track of what time it is, what day of the week it is, what date it is. Let’s see what The Internet has to say. Yes, this is now an official Internet Thing:

In my case, two forces are at work. At any moment I am either absorbed in something, with no fear that if I stay absorbed I will miss something that’s coming up. In which case I lose all track of time, and it goes far faster than I expect. Or, I’m doing nothing, wondering what to get stuck into next, in which case I also lose all track of time, because it then seems to go so slowly. Combine these two things, and I really lose all track of time. All of this quite aside from the fact that I am getting old, a major symptom of which is … losing all track of time.

What is lacking for me, and for many others, is Things Which I Have To Be At Or To Pay Attention To At A Particular Time. Work. Events. Meetings. Sporting events, for real or live on TV, which are not retro-wallowing but which are actually happening now, at a definite time which you have to be aware of or you’ll miss it. And it turns out that if you lack such Events to keep reminding you of the time, which includes the day of the week and the date as well as merely whether it’s 10am or 4pm, you … lose track of time.

Hence the bird.

Good news, the food delivery has now been delivered, that email having earlier arrived telling me when to expect it. These people. Recommended to me and now recommended by me.

Computer battles

This blog is working fine, but my computer is not. It demanded a major upgrade of Windows, and life has not been the same since it deigned to do that, after the usual switch-it-off-switch-it-on-again palaver. My Photoshop(clone) is refusing to process photos, and everything looks different. Black mostly. Windows Photo Viewer or whatever the hell it is is a shambles compared to what it was. And now, it seems, I can’t even copy and paste a damn link, for phux ache. I wanted to insert the getting old link at this point, but my computer refused to even do that.

On the plus side, in the course of my various battles, I blundered into a way to make all the text on my screen 25% bigger, so i can now clearly read all about how my computer is failing to do what I want it to.

I think there are too many windows open. But that’s something to have a go at tomorrow. For tonight, good night.

At least the above bollocks seems to be loading okay.

LATER: Sorted. Switched-it-off-switched-it-on-again, again. I am indeed getting old.

And not a cloud in the sky

On and from the roof of my block of flats, yesterday:

We’re all confined to barracks, and the best weather of the year so far, by far, chose to arrive to celebrate the fact. About five solid days of not-a-cloud-in-the-sky perfection, ideal for any number of different and interesting photo-expeditions, and all we’re allowed to do is a little shopping shopping, go straight to and from work, and take a bit of exercise. As I get older, I become less and less inclined to incur the wrath of strangers, and me creeping about taking photos might, I can’t help feeling, incur the wrath of strangers. Up on the roof seemed like the best place to go photoing, and in particular to photo the annoyingly perfect weather.

Photo 1: The Broadway, taking shape. Photo 2: Millbank Tower, and new south bank apartments beyond. Photo 3: Parliament, The Wheel. Photo 4: looking towards Vauxhall. Photo 8: Central Hall Westminster. Photo 9: Shard.

Photos 5 and 6: Roof clutter, close up.

It’s Photo 7 that is the mystery. I’m going to have to go back up there and check that out. What’s the big tower on the left? What are the towers in the middle? Looks like they’re under construction. Guess, we’re looking towards all the building around Battersea Power Station.

A twenty-first century moment

Central to understanding it is that I still don’t understand it.

Okay, so earlier this evening my phone rang. I picked it up, and said, to some suspiciously silent silence, “Hello”. No answer. “Hello”. No answer. Down goes the phone. Who was that? Oh well.

If this had been the twentieth century, this would have been a “crossed line”. But, I thought, this is not the twentieth century. This is the twenty-first century. Do we still have crossed lines? I rather think not. Oh well.

A bit later, the phone rings again, and it’s GodDaughter 2. I know this because I recognise her voice. (My phone has no idea who’s ringing.) I asked: Did you ring earlier? No.
Well, I said “Hello” and “Hello” to somebody, but heard nothing back. She said, in an “OMG” voice: Oh My God. I was just talking to my Dad, she said. And he said he heard you talking, she said. While we were talking, she said, on some twenty first century computer programme the name of which I (as in: not GD2 – as in: I) forget, but which I (ditto) surmise enables third parties to join in the conversation, so you can have a group chat. In among the talk between GD2 and GD2’s Dad, the phrase “ring Brian” was used, for some reason I didn’t catch and still don’t understand (see above). So, the programme promptly rang Brian, aka me. But I don’t have the programme on my twentieth century telephone, so I could hear nothing. But GD2’s Dad heard me saying “Hello” “Hello”.

Later, GD2’s Dad’s phone rang me again, and I answered, “Hello” “Hello” etc, and a strange young man’s voice came on saying what must have been “Who are you?”, while I was busy saying “Who are you?” GDs’s Dad’s phone had rung GD2’s Dad too, helpfully putting us in touch, given that it had failed last time. GD2’s brother aka GD2’s Dad’s son answered at that end, which make the whole situation really clear, to both of us. Not. Oh well. GD2’s Dad and I had a chat, because we are both polite and could neither of us just say: But I wasn’t trying to talk to you.

This must be what they call Artificial Intelligence.

Please understand (see above about how I don’t actually understand) that the above description is only my guess about what was really happening.

ISIBAISIA

ISIBAISIA stands for “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. As I get older, I find myself wanting to use this phrase more and more, hence my need for an acronym. Which, I note, other persons are already using also.

Anyway, the latest thing that I’ve said before and now find myself in the process of saying again (while linking back to the first version) is something which you will encounter if you scroll down in among this, at Samizdata, namely this:

Recently there was a comment thread here about modern art, about how ghastly it is, how badly it bodes for Western Civilisation, etc. etc. But I believe that to be as pessimistic about the future of the West as some of those pessimistic commenters were, merely because of a lot of stupid abstract paintings, is to fall into the trap of regarding artists in the way they like to regard themselves, as a vanguard of civilisation (an “avant guarde”), rather than as mostly a rearguard. You simply cannot understand Modern Art without appreciating that it takes place in a technological space first developed by, and then abandoned by, the industry of making pictorial likenesses. Abstract art is, in many ways, a rationalisation of the fact that likenesses are now no longer demanded, on the scale of former times, from “artists”. It is primitive picture making, done in a part of town that used to be very grand but is now either stuck in genteel poverty, or in the other kind of poverty: a slum.

Old school art was a business as well as an “art”. …

Painting used to do likenesses. And the new point I am in the middle of making, in the next posting here, is that painting used to do beauty. But photography is now doing beauty also. (Expect a beautiful photo-illustration.) So painting has retreated out of that too. Art doesn’t “advance”. It merely ducks, weaves and accumulates, piggy-backing on technologies developed by more business-like businesses.

Brown Norwegian cheese (again)

In 1966, I had a three month holiday in Scandinavia, on a bike. This did not work very well in Norway, which is rather bumpy, but what did work well in Norway was the brown Norwegian cheese. I don’t have the ostehøvel that I used on that trip to slice the brown Norwegian cheese, because I gave it away to someone, but back home, I bought another one immediately …:

… and have been using it ever since, for slicing regular British cheese.

I had less luck finding any brown Norwegian cheese back home. Even since then, I have kept an eye open for this brown Norwegian cheese, in Brit shops, but I never found any.

Then I had a brainwave. Why not type “brown Norwegian cheese” into the www, and see what came up? Maybe the www could tell me which shop to try. And yes, you are right, I should have thought of this a lot sooner. See the contents list below, which will include: Getting old.

Anyway, the www did its stuff, and I was instructed to visit Waitrose in Oxford Street, which is in the basement of John Lewis. And I duly purchased a couple of … these:

“A Norwagian speciality. Mixed creamy whey cheese made with goat’s milk and cow’s cream.”

When you get inside this (and start slicing and eating), it looks like this:

Yum. £4 per cube. Worth every penny.

LATER: Sorry about the spotty plate. It really is time I got some plain white ones, on which dirt is more easily spotted.

A cricinfo commentator muses wisely about the nature of language

Snatched from the cricinfo online text commentary on this cricket match yesterday:

Hugh: “@ Dez, Spelled is perfectly acceptable, as well as spelt. Like lit and lighted. In any event the thing about language is, if you’re understood then it’s served it’s purpose. Thing with grammar pedants, they’re typically not the brightest.”

Wisely, aside from that last bit of abuse, which I only sort of agree with. Language keeps on changing. Just enjoy it, every so often having a LOL about it.

Over a lifetime, one’s attitude to language changes.

First, teachers (not always of the brightest sort) tell you what language definitely, definitively, objectively, carved into the fabric of the universe, is. Apostrophes so, “literally” literally means literally (which I still think it should (which it literally now does not for many people)), its is different from it’s because blah blah blah, blah blah blah is not correct stop it once, blah blah blah.

Second, you watch people literally driving a tank through all those and similar carved-into-the-universe rules (literally driving an actual fucking tank (and swearing (which is also objectively wrong))), and putting things like “)))” in their blog postings, and generally being wrong.

Three, you relax and realise that it was ever thus. Language always changes. Metaphors mutate into … words, often spelt wrongly. Lines get towed, and well, boo hoo, so what. Like the man said: “If you’re understood then it’s served it’s purpose.” And although that second “it’s” there, according to the pedants who taught me about it’s/its, should have been its, I actually think that spelling it it’s make at least as much sense.

And, I know I know, you can’t carve something into fabric; that would destroy it. But, you got the message.