Feels like a big day

I have for some reason been feeling particularly well for the last three days. Just like I was a few years ago. Quite energetic, not floaty, comfortable, ready. I think the painkillers have finally withdrawn from the field. I thank them for their service from the bottom of my heart. I intend to build a small altar and make daily offerings to the power and majesty of the blessed god Gabapentin and to the lesser god Tramadol.

Those of you who follow the sensationalist, irresponsible health news will know that processed meat gives you cancer <FACT>. Well there’s a thing, most of my Italian relatives live beyond 90 on a diet heavy in salami, mortadella, and Italian sausage. Maria and I had to laugh when Radio 4 indulged the scaremongering by listing the other things that can give you cancer. Apart from the obvious horse having bolted irony of it all, the pronouncement also included warnings for those that use paint and those that have coal fires as well as the usual suspects – smoking and asbestos. I jest not – at that very moment Maria was painting the bathroom, we had just enjoyed a ham sandwich and had lit the wood burner. I should have been smoking an asbestos pipe to clinch it. A triple whammy. I guess we are lucky to survive the night.

I have finished ‘Marge’ more or less to my satisfaction. It needs, what we theatre designer lovies call, set dressing and sprucing up, but otherwise, it’s done.

To my surprise the programming was easy. I had never used MAX/MSP seriously before and the adaptation to a signal flow way of thinking flumuxed me at first but once I stopped trying to find ways of compressing everything into a series of nested if statements and started just joining virtual wires in ugly loops and gates it has worked like a dream. Looks like spaghetti but who cares. It runs unattended and any errors are likely to arise as the result of faulty hardware contacts, leaves on the line, chilly nights, cats, rats etc.

“Marge” has been like a mini, and much more fun PhD (sorry Alistair). I have been completely obsessed – out in my dressing gown with a torch at 4 am (is a minor example), I have read the relevant bits of a 1937 tome on telephony, ((Atkinson – the standard textbook for GPO trainee engineers) – Roger may have memorised the revised edition in the 60’s when he was 4)) and I have spent hours meticulously building switch boxes and sensors from scraps of Bakelite and Evostick (the only glue to bother with – forget superglue, you have to get it under the counter at B&Q cos it’s so good for sniffing, another bonus ). I have concluded that IP cameras are hateful, belligerent, temperamental bits of diva kit that will never work reliably despite have the signal strength of Jodrell Bank pointed at them. ( I can now pick up our broadband connection at the bottom of the street, meanwhile the stupid webcam feigns weak signal strength like a diving Italian football player. I have resorted to a free Baby Monitor app and an old drum mic. Someone good at all this would have taken about a month, as I am crap at it and thus it has taken six. The lie downs and TV box sets have slowed things down as well, but to be frank my satisfaction at this stage knows no bounds. On to the really fun bit.

Meanwhile as a by product of my telephonic obsession I now own a 1940’s dolls eye switchboard acquired for 50 quid less a few swappsies.

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This magnificent machine is barely liftable (well I don’t dare) but most remarkably it seems to work. I doubt it has been powered up since 1940 and yet yesterday evening I figured out the Na meant a sodium battery and connected it to 12 volts. The dolls eyes rolled hysterically for a second or two the buzzer buzzed and like the Golem it came to life. I shouted with joy. It had survived a disasterous postal adventure which split it in two places and dislodged some of the internal components including a curious amount of black tar to hold the buzzer in place. Old tech has the mark of human endeavour all over it and consequently restoring it feels like reviving it and is very satisfying.

As a consequence of my return to a more healthy status I am hoping to return to work more fully and actually travel onto campus from time to time. The details have yet to be resolved so we will see what the university wants me to do.

All in all it is a big day.

Love to all.

2 Responses

  1. ailsa October 28, 2015 / 2:03 pm

    Hi Chris, what are you going to do with your new switchboard? Lovely to hear you are felling so well, keep it up, well done. XXX ps did you know you are a perfect candidate for a campervan, you could tinker for England- food for thought?

  2. Chris Newell October 28, 2015 / 11:03 pm

    There’s a happy chance Na did not mean sodium battery as they had not invented rechargeable batteries in the 1930’s duuhhhh it meant
    night alarm. However a battery cconnected at that point works just fine. Not exactly penicillin or Velcro but still a happy chance.

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