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.

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