Michael McIntyre speaks for me

And for many others, I’m very sure:

I found this here.

I am Old, but I have made enough friends among the Young for me to be able to twist Young arms and mostly get them to do all this for me. The other day a Young Person agreed to get a copy of this CD for me. (I only buy CD’s on line from Amazon, and this CD is not on Amazon.) If I had tried to buy this CD, I would probably have spent longer failing to accomplish this than I will take listening successfully to the CD.

One of the things I like about living in London is that if I want to do buy tickets for something, I can go there beforehand, and buy them, the twentieth century way.

Increasingly, I find that trying to visit any “visitor attraction” is starting to resemble trying to get on an airplane. And as McIntyre explains, booking beforehand on your computer is just as bad.

A good bit, concerning those never-read “terms and conditions”:

I’m slightly worried that in five years time iTunes are going to show up at my door and say: “We own this house now.”

And don’t get me started on passwords. Just watch him speaking (for me) about passwords.

I don’t know why there are big black bits above and below Michael McIntyre. If anyone can suggest a way to get rid of these that I am capable of doing, I would be most grateful.

My fourth task was photoing the entrance to the Queen’s Gallery

Late this afternoon, I went out walking, within walking distance of where I live. I had four tasks and I accomplished all of them, and then some. I have reached the age where getting four out of four in this sort of way is reason to self-congratulate. The and then some being that I took lots of photos that I hadn’t planned on photoing.

The first task was to stock up on some canned drinks that I can only buy at one shop. The second was to stop by a cash machine. The third was to photo a building, a detail of which I needed to know about for a blog posting. And the fourth was to photo this:

This being the entrance to the Queen’s Gallery. (Interesting that the Queen’s Gallery has no website.) I have arranged to meet someone there next week, to see the Leonardo da Vinci show they are showing. And I needed to check that saying “entrance” as the place where we’ll meet is clear and unambiguous. Better yet, I needed a photo of the entrance, so I can say: there.

Don’t you just love it when a piece of personal admin can double up as a blog posting? Well, no, you probably never do that, or feel that way about it. But I do and I do.

Goodbye to some old friends

One of the many symptoms of getting old is the reluctance to chuck away things that seem complicated and hence undeserving of being chucked away, when they have nevertheless stopped working. No “finding a good home” for them. (What home would want them? They’re not pets.) No ridiculous attempts to get them mended. (Who would mend them, at a cost remotely as low as that of just buying another?) No keeping them in case someone might want them. (Who? Why?) Just get rid of them.

And these three gizmos (four if the speakers count twice) all ran out of puff within about a week of one another, after each giving me at least a decade of good service:

The phone is the one that was in my bathroom. I could still hear everything, but suddenly those at the other end couldn’t hear me. The new phone is the same, but black

The speakers were attached to my computer. One of them conked out, even though the other one, with all the knobs on, is still fine. The new speakers, also black, are much bigger and much better. Crucially, they permit me to vary the tone just like the old white ones did, and beef up the base a bit. Many such speakers refuse to do this.

And the little black screen is for watching DVDs in bed. (I like DVDs. Spare me the comments about how you don’t and how you think I shouldn’t.) The replacement is also black. Black, it would seem, is the New Black.

I like that I can memorialise such dead gadgetry with a photo.

The Mississippi Basin

I have never seen this map before:

I sharpened it a bit, so that I could read, with my Getting Old eyesight, the smaller river names with a bit less difficulty.

It is map number 7 of these 45 maps. A Twitter posting last night, now way down in my feed, showed one of these maps.

My favourite piece of geography there is probably Chicago, where it seems that they have a river which flows into the Mississippi. Blog and learn.

Attached blurb:

You may have heard that the Mississippi River is mighty, but if you ever doubted it, just take a look at this map. You’ll see that an extraordinary number of the United States’ rivers and tributaries send water into the Mighty Miss.

Quite so.

I love the names. Milk. Yazoo. Republican. Canadian (nowhere near Canada). Powder. Smoky. In general, I love the names of American places and geographical features. They seem impossibly exotic compared to the names of places in England. (But I’m sure that, for quite a few Americans, it must work the other way around.)

England has no big rivers. The Thames would hardly merit a name on the above map. I recall that one of my better pieces for Samizdata was about how the application of steam power to river transport entirely passed us Brits by. We went straight from stationary steam engines in coal mines to steam engines on locomotives. Unlike America. Yes, here.

The curse of Having To Do Something Else The Same Day (and gauze in the early morning light)

I am writing this at 5am, and will shortly be going back to bed. That’s another Getting Old (see the “Categories” below) thing. I now typically have to get up in the middle of the night, to piss and to cool down, bladder and temperature control being two things that have cumulatively deserted me, as I have Got Older.

Also, as with most of this week’s evenings, I have something I must go out and do this evening. That always puts the kibosh (spelling?) on the day. There’s something about having Absolutely Nothing To Do For the whole day, until I next go to bed for real (i.e., at this particular time) in the very small hours of Saturday morning, that enables me to really get stuck into something, like a piece of serious writing (this not being that) or even merely thinking seriously about something, that I really like. Contrariwise, the knowledge that if I do get really stuck into something now, it might go on and on into the evening, at which point I would then have to cut it short, and go off to do something else, makes me fear getting stuck in in the first place. Even though I have many hours before I have to go off to do that other thing.

Factor in the something-here-every-day rule, and I think you can see how I need to get blogging out of the way as soon as possible. Blogging, of even the most trivial sort (this being that) is something that you can’t guarantee to finish at any particular hour. It takes as long as it takes. What if I find I want to stick up a photo? And what if that photo leads to other photos? What if I want to link back to an earlier posting, from the old blog, which I haven’t yet shovelled across to here? What if Surrey suddenly start doing really well at cricket, and demand my attention, in among me trying to contrive this blog posting? There’s so much to get complicated, and to gobble up all that now seemingly endless time.

Here is a photo that I want to stick up here, now, of the early morning light coming in through the scaffolding and the gauze outside the window of my living room:

That wasn’t actually photoed just now. It was photoed at this time in the morning, earlier this week. The time of day is the point, not the date of the day. The photo is all about how you can see through gauze if the gauze itself is not lit up, but not so much if it is.

Here is another early morning gauze photo, also one I photoed earlier:

The point of that photo being that despite the gauziness of the gauze, if you can persuade your camera to focus on the far distance, through the gauze, it’s like the gauze isn’t there. The gauze might as well be a perfectly cleaned lens of filter, for all the interruption it imposes. It changes the nature of the incoming light, but not the clarity of the photo. If anything, by reducing the mere quantity of light, it clarifies the picture, just like a regular filter. That red clutch of a table and chairs can be entirely seen, with no gauze in the picture at all, just less light and therefore, probably, less glare all over the place. But the gauze is there. Just not having any effect on what my camera seems to see. How about that?

Here is a photo of the gauze, similar to the first photo above. But this is not about the contrast between the lit gauze and the unlit gauze, merely about how very gauzy the gauze is:

Enough. (Although actually, let me add, I (LATER:) made the first version of the above gauziness even gauzier by “sharpening” it, in my photoshop-clone. Much better. (Much gauzier.))

But now, I have to photo-process the above photos, just to get them the right size, and then load them up into the blog. This all takes time. I also need to give the above a read-through and correct, which also all takes time. By the time this trivial blog posting is done, over an hour (a phrase which had to be changed from “the best part of an hour”) will have elapsed. Had I been doing all this in the knowledge that in two hours, say, I’d have had to stop and go out, it would have been very stressful. I might have had to stop before completion and just hope that that the bits of this blog posting were pickable-uppable later. As it is, all I did was delay some resumed sleep, let my feet get a bit colder than is convenient, and my bed get a bit colder than will enable my feet to warm up again, all of which is easily corrected with a hot water bottle. No problem.

Really. Enough.

I have now freed up the entire day, for important but non-urgent stuff. Bliss. Come to think of it, I have other important and urgent stuff to deal with. Now much easier to fit in. Bliss of a different kind. (ENOUGH.)

Another symptom of getting old

When you are young, and you realise something true and important, this is evidence of how clever you are, even if what it is that you have just realised was really rather obvious. (And everything is obvious, once you’ve understood it. That’s what understanding is.)

When you are old, however, and you realise something true and important, this is evidence of how stupid you are for not having understood it about forty or fifty years sooner than you did. (Because everything is obvious, blah blah.)

This has happened to me twice in the last fortnight. I will not complicate this posting by confessing what these two very different but very obvious things were, but trust me, they were very obvious indeed.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Sculptures and scaffolding

In March 2005 there was scaffolding at the Albert Memorial, and I photoed it, along with several of its subsidiary sculptures, sculptures of which I am very fond:

There is an elephant there, centre stage, which is why this has to go up here on a Friday. Also, note the lady with with her (right) boob job. I’ve always liked that.

Here is Albert himself, same day, same time:

My camera then was this one.

There will come a time, not so far in the future now, when the only photos of my own that I blog about will be photos I photoed earlier, often, as in this case, a lot earlier.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Death in France and death on television

A week ago now, I photoed this photo in the graveyard of a little village up in the mountains of southern France called Taulis (already mentioned here) (LINK TO THE OLD BLOG). Today being Good Friday, I thought I’d do a little nod towards Christianity by showing a few crucified Christs, France being very full of these rather gruesome sorts of sculpture. Everywhere you go in France, or so it seems to me, you see these, and not just in graveyards:

Even more striking, however, in that photo, are the dead body storage units in the background. Do we have those in England? Not that I recall seeing.

They remind me of the dead body storage units that you see in TV police dramas. Every so often there’s a scene where a grieving relative is asked to identify a cadaver, and a drawer is opened, and closed. We see grief enacted.

Are police dramas on the telly replacing graveyards and crucified Christs as the main means that we now use to contemplate death?

As I get nearer to death, I think about it more and more. What will it be like? Will I know I’m dead? Will I still be “alive” when I am incinerated? Will there by bright lights in the distance? Will it hurt? Will I be reunited with the enemies of my schooldays? Will I still be able to write about it here, but in a way that is unpublished? What, historically speaking, will I miss by a whisker? Or by decades and centuries?

Maybe France is not so full of crucified Christs. Maybe it’s just that when I now see them, I notice them.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Something I forgot to mention

There you were, waiting for a good time to con your way past the front door of my block of flats by saying you’re the postman, to climb my stairs, to bash in my front door and to plunder my classical CD collection. All that was stopping you was the fear of me bashing your skull to bits with my cricket bat, which I keep handy for just this sort of eventuality.

So anyway, there you were reading all about how my life for the last week has been complicated. But, I clean forgot to tell you that the reason for all this complication was that I was off in the south of France. Silly old me. I’m getting old, I guess.

Here’s how the south of France was looking:

Those are the Pyrenees at the back there. In the foreground, lots of little wine trees.

The weather looks slightly better in that than it really was, what with it having been so very windy. Especially on the final day of my stay, up on this thing.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Two beautiful days

On Thursday, perfet weather was perfectly prophesied by our brilliant short-term weather forecasters, and I journeyed to the Dome and places south, to take a closer look at The Optic Cloak:

And then yesterday afternoon, following a similarly prescient forecast, forecasting similarly perfect weather, GodDaughter2 and I, as recounted yesterday, walked through Hyde Park:

That being one of the accompanying sculptural collections next to the Albert Memorial, which at the moment I think I prefer to the Memorial itself.

I basically spent today recovering from all this self-propelled travel. You, like me, are not getting any younger, no matter how young you may now be. But this expression is only used by people of my kind of age to describe how I felt after two such days of exertion.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog