Disappointed in myself

I am disappointed in myself. I have been letting myself go.

Maria found a honey nut cornflake and a lettuce leaf in the bed. It seems they had escaped from my tee shirt having found there way in during a TV dinner. I got up this morning for a bath at 4:30 am having dreamt I had pooped myself. I hadn’t, but I think the writing was on the wall.

So I am clean now and will reward myself with 5 minutes of meticulous beard tending a bit later. Something that always make me feel as spruce as Jeremy Irons in ‘Swann in Love.’

Anyway this morning I realised how lucky we are having each other. I don’t think I would cope if I was on my own. Actually I know I wouldn’t. Despite the very cultivated persona I like to project of an “individual” I am actually the opposite. I have to be part of a group, even if that group has just two members, one of whom is Maria

Maria is resolutely pursuing Sainsbury’s who called us at 8:00 am to tell us that I was a priority customer for deliveries cos of the cancer and then made it completely impossible for us to order anything because I don’t have an account. Why would ya traditional husband and wife who still share towels and toothbrushes need two Sainsbury’s accounts? Needless to say you can’t register for an account because they aren’t taking new customers. Could it be that big business is more concerned about seeming to care than actually caring. If I see another advert on TV that implies that banks and supermarkets and petrol stations care about people and dogs and poetry and trees and sentimental ballads, and beaches and baby black horses and multi ethnic families, and all the crap cliches meant to evoke loyalty in the mugs like us that spend our hard earned cash paying for the bloody adverts, well I will forced to buy my E45 cream on Amazon prime in protest. Anyone else getting really sore hands from all the washing.

Maria has just asked me what I plan to do about the Kiwi fruit. They came with our family vegetable order. You know the one with the mushroom. Anyway Maria is allergic and I think they taste like hairy, sweet, tinned cucumber. So the dilemma is for me to eat them anyway (I suggested last night I would – actually just to curtail the conversation), allow them to rot in the fridge and then discard in a fortnight (my preferred option) or give them away to Steph (down the road, who does our shopping). Maria has gone off to mull this at length. It’s good to have all this time to think about the important things in life.

I am doubly disappointed in myself.

I am trying to complete my phone box project this summer and I keep hitting the limit of my problem solving skills. I try to think like an engineer to solve each problem one at a time. I keep pretty meticulous notes https://k6.gravityisahat.com/wp/ but the sad fact is that I am just not intelligent enough to do what is required quickly and I never was the sort of person who could do puzzles or brain teasers. A decent brain would sort this in a month or so. I have been at it for five years and still each day as figure one thing out something else comes unravelled. I find myself trying to force my brain to sharpen up by telling it off, but all that happens is my inner voice just gets shirty and repeats the problem back to me as if performing some sort of incantation. The only solution that seems to offer some hope is to rely on the first few hours of the morning, try to make one positive step between 6 and 11 amidst all the retrograde cock ups and then do something else. The alternative is for the inner voice to just get more and more raucous and less and less helpful. Argggghh I get so frustrated.

Only one mushroom!

It’s so quiet here. I really must make a recording of the ambient noise in the garden. It’s probably never going to be repeated. We are used to hearing the East Coast trains about a mile away, fairly frequent cars, and tractors in the farm across from us seemingly in continuous reverse with the warning beepers blaring. Now we hear birds (lots of) and children playing at the bike track in the wood  – and that’s about it. I always regret losing a recording I made as a child on reel to reel of the ambient noise from my bedroom. Somehow that really would be time travel in a way that, for me, photos and videos, just aren’t. This weird period reminds me of accounts of the Battle of Britain raging in blistering blue sky’s over the gardens of Kent in 1940. The same sense of nature ticking along just nicely while humanity blows itself to bits just out of sight.

Us two are in fine fettle. We only get on each other’s nerves because Maria likes socializing even at two metres and I don’t. Let’s face it, because a subject is important, doesn’t make it interesting. Hearing each walker’s take on the virus (a rehash of what has already been regurgitated a hundred times on the BBC) as we take our daily constitutional is really, really, really dull. Breathing in to avoid the cellulite spray as old people sweat by in ludicrous lycra just makes me crave for the day that humanity is extinguished so that the planet can get on  with nurturing  a more imaginative species of beetle or crab that doesn’t believe that the path to evolutionary robustness is running about in a dayglow nylon skin. That said, I admit that this weekend the dust is to be blown off our exercise bike thing, neglected for ten years, the DVD player is to be wound up and I shall be shaking my indoor biking booty to the Glastonbury Muse gig  (to my sisters: they are a pop band A&J bit like the Beatles or the Tremelos but nothing like Brahms) – probably the best rock concert I have ever seen – that said I have only seen about three and they were all on video, so who am I kidding.

Highlights of the last few days.

One – We received a delivery of vegetables and fruit that includes such oddities such as radishes, dates and a swede with only one, yes one, mushroom, be it a largish one. “Is there a shortage of loo rolls and mushrooms such that we are being rationed?” proffered Maria in here most outraged voice. Maria’s highest level of outrage is reserved for food. Poor quality, bad restaurant choices, preparation, presentation, heat, cold, quantity, containing crockery, utensil for the consumption of, etc, elicit outrage greater than any resulting from such trifles as the national debt or Trumps Tweets.  Her outrage and ensuing analysis of the mushroom debacle continued obsessively over the Archers and beyond into the advert breaks of “Last Tango in Halifax.” It’s to be the quote of the Newell Bovino family pandemic – “Only one mushroom! What do they expect me to do with that.” We now have copious amounts of cat food, all one flavour, so fingers crossed it’s acceptable to our three fussy diners.

Two – A small plastic cat fell down the sink and blocked it, followed uproariously by the tweezers intended to rescue it. How we laughed, NOT, as we fumbled about trying to fish them out. I just knew that bent kebab skewers would come into their own one day.

Three – I wrote the short script for the BBC competition. Avani encouraged me. It turned out much darker than I intended but I was pleased to have actually managed stick to the brief and not pretend to subvert it because I couldn’t  do what they asked for. This has been my strategy since school. If you don’t know how to answer something then pretend you are such an original that the only authentic approach is to mock the question. My one word answer to my English paper on Hemingway’s style ‘and…’ was just such a solution to having not read a Farewell to Arms cos I could not be arsed and had barely read a novel cover to cover in my life and certainly wasn’t doing so cos some teacher said you must. An attitude that more or less persists to this day. I have read some whole novels but for my sixty three years on the planet, very few. I have started a lot though. My script was fun to do but in the end, I think it was insubstantial. I suppose by that I mean it didn’t get into the head of anyone interesting or find out anything interesting. It did what it was required to do but that was all. So it will probably win since in my modest opinion all my other misunderstood and falsely maligned competition entries to date (all for the Mogford Prize (cos of the massive prize money) all of which have failed to even get an acknowledgement of their existence) had the virtue of being about something I really find interesting which I would describe as people on the edge of being real, this was about something I don’t really care about, namely people who could actually exist in real life. Who needs stories about them, specially at the moment.

End of blog post for the non nerdy reader.

Four– I have left this till last because it’s nerdy and therefore dear reader, it will be of interest to only one dear reader who actually shares my interest in technical stuff.

So, after solving the problem with ‘Jack’ and Asterisk.  I may have solved my next problem and figured out a way of detecting presence in the phone box which is reliable. It came with a whole bunch of solutions and one big problem. Solutions – The software is free and open source – Pure Data + GEM a graphic technology I had never heard of . Someone had already built some working examples hurrah  – it uses cheap web cam technology to compare a frame shot against a plain background, in this case the floor of the phone box with any subsequent frames containing new foreground objects eg. someone’s feet. While the foreground objects are in the frame then someone is in the box. Simple but for one problem. To be accurate sufficient to trigger precise interaction you need near zero latency on the video feed.  IPCams have variable latency, cctv systems are expensive and the signal needs an interface to pure data, that, to my knowledge doesn’t exist and too difficult for me to build. Guess what, you can extend a usb signal, in theory up to 100 metres, mine goes just 30 metres, using CAT5e cable and and £50 adapter amplifier from eBay. Near zero latency and no new interface required. I must admit I was amazed that it works.