Happy birthday

Happy birthday to me, that is, because today has been my 72nd birthday. Several emails have arrived noting that various Facebook friends have been wishing me a Happy Birthday. I find Facebook baffling and useless as a means of personal communication, so am unable to access any of these messages on my Facebook feed, where I can detect no sign of them. So let me say here, to Robert L, Bjorn, Tim, Rob F, among others: thanks for all the good wishes.

In this computerised era, everyone is prompted by their various machines to do this, but it still means something that they actually do it.

Also appreciated were various phone calls. It tells you something about the experience of Getting Old (see the category list below) that all of these conversations included, in among the birthday greetings, medical discussions of various bodily malfunctions and of the efforts of the NHS, such as they have been, to correct these. My various friends and family are also Getting Old, you see. Older, anyway.

The general lesson from these medical conversations seems to be: if you want the NHS to start being properly on your side, get yourself classified as an emergency. Let me clarify this. You need to be threatening to die. Then, the NHS seems to stir itself into action. But if you are merely rather damaged and you are able to get worse before death looms at all threateningly, the NHS can’t seem to persuade itself to be that interested. It focusses its attention instead on manipulating the various queues it puts you in, in order to made its statistics look better than they actually are. Basically, it tries to keep you in a queue before it allows you to join the actual Official Queue, the one it wants to keep short, and thereby make itself look good. One of the friends I spoke with today said he had recently photoed a bench in a hospital corridor with the words “SUB QUEUE” attached to it.

Birthdays, when you are rather old, remind you that you are Getting Old. Which might explain why, to celebrate my own birthday, I have, by way of giving myself a present, chosen to have a good old grumble.

BMNB Quota QotD: And the winner is …

Today I want to be very busy doing something else, and I don’t want to be fretting about not yet having put anything here. So, I just trawled through Twitter for a LOL quote, and here is the one that made me LOL the loudest, from some lady called (somewhat scarily) Olivia Mace:

My period tracker apps the same colour as the trainline one. Just showed a bemused inspector that I’m ovulating.

The twenty first century, eh? Problems, problems.

Fitness vehicle

Yesterday, being ill made me think of food, because I wasn’t eating any food.

Today, what I am most feeling the lack of is body fitness. So, this:

Spotted by me in Stoke Newington last week.

As you can see, there’s a website. Interesting how she says that it’s a “sports industry”.

I assume that Lana wants to be noticed, or why would she should drive about in such a very noticeable vehicle?

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

I love London

Another shop window photo, photoed by me on the same day as I photoed, this, this, and this:

Click on that to get it quite a bit bigger than usual. It deserves the detail.

I have long considered the stuff in tourist stuff shops to be an underrated object of photo-devotion.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

More healthcare technology in action

Yesterday, as already noted, I was out and about in London. And another interesting thing I photoed was this, also healthcare-related:

I photoed this photo with his permission, by the way.

I guess that the purpose of this gizmo is to enable the knee-joint to keep moving, while remain in its correct state, without putting any (or at any rate undue) strain on it, the strain being taken by the gizmo and the bits of limb it is attached to rather than (only) by the joint.

But, truthfully, I don’t really know. What I do know, just from looking at this photo, is that there is a definite plan in action, and that it is helping a lot, far more than one of those big old rigid plaster caste monsters would have.

Here is a close-up of the name of this contraption …:

… which enabled me to find some produktinformation. What the gizmo does is Führung und Stabilisierung des Kniegelenks. Which is, I rather think (guess), pretty much what I just said.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

A different way to open a car door

Today a friend needed some rather dramatic medical attention, and I dropped by to provide what I hope was a little moral support. Outside the place where this was happening, I encountered this cute little vehicle:

Two interesting things about this little gizmo. First, there is the way that its door opens. The door on its right is open, in the above photos. Useful in a tight space, I should guess.

And second is what it does, there being a website on it which enables you to learn about this. It takes tissue or samples from sick people to a lab, where the lab decides its opinion about the nature of that sickness.

I like these little cars, which are so small they are almost motor bikes. I certainly prefer them to those huge Chelsea Tractors, which look like they’re for doing bank robbery getaways or off-roading or maybe both at once. Which, let’s face it, most Londoners do neither of, ever.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

From ridiculous to sublime

Ridiculous:

Octopus shorts. Photoed by me in the Kings Road.

Not so ridiculous and just a little bit sublime:

It’s this shop, in the Fulham Road, a few hours later.

Sublime:

Sublime compared to the Octopus Shorts anyway. If Jeff Koons did that, it would change hands for millions.

Not photoed by me. A friend featured that photo at her Facebook site recently, she having photoed it. My friend says that this unicorn is something to do with fundraising for Great Ormond Street Hospital, despite not being close to that Hospital. More the Gloucester Road area. But even given all that information Google could tell me nothing about it.

I’m guessing that, what with unicorns being very big business, this unicorn, even if it is on the www, is buried under a million other unicorny images and products and general nonsense, which have all paid Google to put them first. Such is the internet. If you aren’t paying, you’re the product.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

Helipad next to a railway station

Last Saturday, in the afternoon, while the rest of England was obsessing over Sweden v England, I was taking the train from Victoria around the south of central London to South Bermondsey, to see an actual man, about a metaphorical dog. My train stopped off at Denmark Hill on its way to Bermondsey, and there I took another of those inside-a-train photos, with yellow tank tracks on it caused by the lighting in the train:

That looks like some sort of helicopter landing and taking off pad, of the sort that they have on top of hospitals.

If this was the twentieth century, it would have remained a mystery, to me, for ever, unless I happened upon someone who knew what this was and I happened to ask him. But it is the twenty first century, and just now, I googled “Denmark Hill helicopter pad”. And in no time at all, I learned that this was a helicopter landing and taking off pad on top of a hospital.

To say that I unreservedly love the twenty first century would be to overstate matters. But it does have its features, in among all its various bugs.

So much for the certainties of this situation, as revealed by the internet, one of the better features of this century so far.

Now for some guesses.

Why the ramp, leading from the pad, to the hospital?

Why not a lift, into which bodies can simply be wheeled, in about ten seconds?

My guess is that nothing is allowed to protrude above the surface of the pad, in case helicopters are blown into it by a gust of wind, or in case they miscalculate in some other way. No protrusions. Not even for seriously injured bodies, perhaps close to death.

So, the ramp. And for the first few scary yards of it, there are no fences to stop you or the body trolley you are pushing being blown off, just a horizontal bit of wire netting to catch it and you, and prevent the very worst, just like the similar horizontal bits that surround the pad itself. So, take care. But, as you descend the ramp, a fence slowly rises up around you that will impede any ill-judged horizontal meandering you may blunder or be blown into doing, without in any way impeding the helicopters. And, as soon as you have got down below the pad, you go under it, into a lift. And you are in the hospital and can breath easy, even if the body you have brought with you may be breathing very difficult.

It’s my belief that if you look at my photo, you will see, if not all, then at least most, of the above.

I recall reading, once upon a time, that digital photoing is a substitute for really looking closely at stuff. We photo things instead of really looking at things and really seeing things, said whoever it was who was grumbling. My experience has been the opposite. For me, digital photoing has meant spending so much time looking at and seeing things that the problem has been finding the time time to be doing anything else.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog

The ultimate non-disruptive technology

Next Friday, my good friend Adriana Lukas will be giving a talk at my home entitled Personal Recollections of Life Under Communism. While concocting some biographical information for my email list members, I took a closer look than I have before at her Twitter feed.

Way back in 2015, Adriana retweeted this remarkable image:

It looks like some ancient oil painting, rather than the latest-thing highest-of-high-tech imagery, which of course is what it is.

GE Healthcare’s 3D-printing software works seamlessly with GE Advantage Workstation systems already working inside hospitals around the world. After a scan, the anatomy is rendered as a 3D image using GE’s Volume Viewer software, a 3D-imaging platform that combines data from sources like CT but also MRI and X-ray. The software then converts the image file generated by the Volume Viewer and within seconds translates it into a file format that can be interpreted by a 3D printer.

“In the past, it would take several days to get the images back” from an outside 3D software processor, Cury says. “The advantage of the new software is it’s in the same workstation where the technologists already do work on 3D images. The steps are a lot quicker and easier.”

More than 100 hospitals around the world have already ordered GE’s 3D organ printing software, which can be used for any type of organ as well as models of bones and muscles. GE says that as more hospitals use the software, it will be easier and quicker for doctors like Cury to share files with each other and have 3D models to use for planning and education prior to procedures.

The most impressive 3D printing stories often feature hopelessly old-school businesses, like GE. This is because 3D printing is the ultimate non-disruptive technology. It attaches itself to existing businesses and makes them better. If you know only about 3D printing, and are not willing to cooperate with a regular business, forget about it.

All those stupid 3D printers that they tried to sell in Currys PC World a few years back were just ridiculous junk for making further even more ridiculous junk.

Originally posted at Brian Micklethwait’s Old Blog