The Blog of Zakspade

February 2020 Archive
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Pink Pig
  OCD Failure
Friday 28 February, 2020

Although it wasn’t snowing today, it was bitterly cold. When I was confronted by an unexpected queue for the counter at my local post office, I was glad to have an opportunity to warm up before walking back home.

As the clerk dealt with parcels and letters, I stood and considered aspects of Life, the Universe and Everything (not the book, but now it comes to mind, I think I will read it once again).

I was happy in my thoughts.

Then there was a sound as if something had hit the floor. I looked behind me and a tube of glue in packaging was on the ground, having been knocked off a display unit by the woman queuing behind me. My assumption was that she was going to pick it up, but she made no move to do so. Consequently I very nearly picked it up for her – in the same way I might pick up something anyone had dropped and hand it to them, but I didn’t as I was aware that it could have been viewed in so many different ways. So I left it.

I was facing the front and knowing the item was on the floor drove me crazy. There had been no indication that the extravagantly-coated woman had picked it up. The very bulk of her coat had been the cause of knocking the shop goods to the floor in the first place, and it made a noise if she even raised her hand to scratch her noise. Therefore I figured that a cacophony would result if she deigned to bend down and pick up what she had originally disturbed, and she was hardly making a sound.

There was a clatter and I couldn’t help but look behind me. The tube of glue had now been joined by another now stationary stationery item. It had been clipped by her voluminous coat when she had adjusted her grip on her small parcel.

I turned back to the counter for it was now my turn. As my letters and small parcels were being processed I glanced back to see the two victims of the woman’s coat still there on the floor. The clerk asked me something and I turned to face her and there was another clunk behind me. A quick look revealed three objects now stranded on the floor.

I couldn’t bear it any longer. Once I had paid for the postage, I rushed out of the shop and back to the embrace of the arctic cold weather as if it were an old friend.


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  Invisible Lines
Tuesday 25 February, 2020

On my walk to my local post office, it never ceases to amaze me how some of the road junctions attract yellow lines through them. Nobody would be so foolish as to park on a road junction, surely?

Yes, I know many joke about how there are some who really shouldn’t be allowed behind the wheel of a vehicle, but actually choosing to park at the point where road meet is just silliness on the part of those of us who are detractors, rather than serious criticism.

You’d think.

Imagine my surprise when I saw a line of cars parked along a road leading to a mini-roundabout. Such a sight isn’t unusual at that spot, but no one parks nearer to the painted white blob than the point at which the yellow lines start.

Except today.

Yes, some bright spark decided that vehicles wanting to negotiate the roundabout would be able to squeeze past their car without any trouble. Pedestrians trying to cross, or buses attempting to access the road, would have no problem as they could take to the air and fly across their constriction known as inconsiderate parking.

The logic of yellow lines once used to be that it gave police officers the ability to report those who ignored the rules (not the guidelines) within the Highway Code without being engaged in a discussion over whether any particular act of parking needed a tape measure to check adherence, or otherwise, to said rules.

These days, yellow lines are redundant in many areas as, in these enlightened times of police cutbacks, drivers can pretty well park where they like – lines or no lines – and there isn’t going to be anyone to report them.

Sunday 23 February, 2020

Campanology, the art of bell ringing.

It was performed on me last night, but without bells.

I’m at an age when sitting down to listen to live music is preferred, and it is nearly always too loud. However, last night there was nowhere to sit, and the band was bloody loud.

  Just Me
Thursday 20 February, 2020

It was gone eight in the evening. I popped into a Big Name supermarket to buy some doughnuts. A search of the shelves revealed a poor selection – given the time it was no surprise – but I found what I wanted and headed to the tills.

None were manned. Instead, the only tills open were the public automated things. There was a single young chap overseeing eight self-service tills. I asked him if any other tills were due to be opened and he told me that the shop closed them all at eight o’clock every evening and required customers to self-checkout.

I told him that I will never buy or process purchases through such devices and placed my chosen doughnuts on an empty checkout position and walked out. It looks like one of the other local major supermarkets will be getting all my custom from now on.

Petty? Possibly, but in my head I justify it by considering the fact that the retail outlets that install such electronic checkouts are doing so in order to reduce their staff levels and increase their profits rather than doing favours to customers or contributing to Society by providing employment.

ONE employee overseeing/manning EIGHT checkouts? Does anyone else find their use in shops morally dubious?

No? Just me then...

Monday 17 February, 2020

Last week I was reading over something that I had written and a twitch manifested itself under my left eye. It was close enough to the lower lid that it caused my eyeball to judder. The result was that while it took place, it was impossible to read anything without keeping a finger pressed against the skin just below my eye.

I went to a school play during the week and partway through it the twitch returned. Again, to stop the world from appearing to shudder and jump about, I pressed a finger firmly against my cheek near my eye. A comment was made that the play wasn’t that moving, but I refrained from explaining the reason for my action.

The twitch seems malevolent. Whenever I settle down to read a book or watch a film, it returns and I end up with a finger tucked under my eye so as to stop whatever I am looking at from seemingly trying to shake apart.

Over the week, it hasn’t been constant, but yesterday I noted with relief that it was abating. The instances of disturbed vision were reducing and I gave a mental sigh of relief.

Until this morning.

While it is true that it has become a rare occurrence, my right eye has now been afflicted by the exact same nerve twitch in the lower lid. The only difference apparent to those seeing me taking action against the annoyance is a switch from left to right.

For instance, I have to type this Blog entry with one hand because the other is engaged in applying pressure to my cheek so as to allow me to see what I am writing.

I no longer need to wonder about the exact definition of the word infuriating.

  Look Out!
Thursday 13 February, 2020

It is rare, as I approach my local post office, not to witness someone in a car reversing away from the shop, out onto what is a busy road. I once asked someone why they parked ‘nose in’ and they told me it was too difficult to reverse into the parking area.

But apparently not too difficult to reverse out into moving traffic.

It is so common, it tends not to bother me. I just make sure not to be too close to anyone edging out into the road in case they are struck and end up being bounced into me on the pavement.

However, I did draw the line with the driver who thinks it okay to reverse out onto the main road when I’m walking towards the shop front door and they clonk me because they didn’t bother looking properly.

I walked around to the driver’s side and spoke to the chap who did that to me during the week. My only words and actions were to remove my glasses, point to them, and utter the words: Try Specsavers before getting behind the wheel in future.

So much more satisfying than yelling and shouting.

  Body Roll
Monday 10 February, 2020

We live in a time of CCTV everywhere. The ‘favourite’ of the car driver is the ‘speed camera’ (sorry – safety camera – as many are quick to point out).

I was out in my car yesterday and a village with a 40mph limit through it was on my route. However, the road through it the whole length was subject to roadworks and so traffic lights were in operation at both ends of the village.

As I approached, the traffic management lights turned red and the car ahead of me slowly came to a halt. I pulled up gently behind them. I looked into my rear view mirror and watched a huge black SUV bearing down on me seemingly not intending to stop. There really wasn’t much else for me to do but brace for impact.

There was no need. I had surmised correctly: they had no intention of stopping. Instead they veered around me and the car in front and steamed through the red light at about 60mph. If not enough, they accelerated up the hill and away through the other end of the village.

Such was their speed as they ignored the traffic lights and the two cars obediently sat waiting, they had been forced to squeeze their vehicle in between traffic cones and barriers resulting in a tremendous degree of body roll. When they first shot past me I didn’t think they were going to make it much further without either rolling or crashing through the barrier and across the grass opposite the road works.

But they made it and scared the living daylights out of the old dear driving the car about to head down the road head-on towards them.

I’ll remember that incident the next time someone tells me a speed camera ‘caught them’ because they strayed 2mph over the limit while otherwise driving sensibly. Unfortunately the moron in the large SUV probably has all sorts of gadgets on their dashboard to warn them of traffic cameras and they won’t be that person caught.

A pity.

Saturday 8 February, 2020

My brief: to identify a device suitable for an older person to access their bank and Facebook safely. Video messaging would be a bonus.

Their current method was via an old laptop running Windows 7 which attracted apologies from the user every time they started it:

Sorry it’s so slow, or It’s getting there, I promise! or I swear It’s getting slower, sorry!

Add the lack of security and my inability to tie it down, security-wise, without it requiring a Masters Degree in computing on the part of the user to just navigate a webpage, and you might see how it was not really a case of fiddling with it and, Hey presto!

Although I’m a PC person, and I am not a fan of Apple products or their ethos, in this particular case it seemed to me that rather than setting up a new Windows PC or laptop and becoming the IT support line, a locked-down Apple device was the way forward. And so an iPad was acquired.

All that remained was for me to set it up so I was free to run away! The iPad’s new owner powered it up and we followed the instructions. An Apple ID was created. Then hoops and hurdles never experienced in the world of PCs threw themselves in my way. I ended up having to input verification numbers received by SMS and by email. Every time I wished to access something to configure the iPad for the user it demanded further security credentials.

The user was becoming concerned. Will I have to keep on doing all that? they asked.

No, this particular iPad features fingerprint unlocking (known by Apple as TouchID). Once sorted all it needed was the user’s thumb. Even using the banking app to access their money just required their thumb to be attached to their hand.

Finally, as I prepared to leave, after a successful and fruitful afternoon of setting it up, I was asked what if they inadvertently tinkered with something and messed things up? I reminded them of all the ‘messing about’ I had been through to set the device up ready for them and I told them that if they ever managed to get somewhere that could result in a system-wide change, then they would be subject to the same rigmarole as I had endured, so it was basically impossible for them to ‘break’ anything by accident.

Nearly twenty-four hours have passed and there has been no telephone call. The verification madness seems to have paid off.

  Time Portal
Wednesday 5 February, 2020

My walk to my local post office is about 15 minutes each way if I am not in a hurry. Currently I have a bug. I figured that such a walk – even in the cold, but well wrapped up – would be a good thing.

Those who know me will be aware that I rarely take my car out if I can help it. Doing battle with long queues of very slow moving traffic threading through the town in which I live really doesn’t do anything for me. At certain times in the day it is quicker for me to walk over a mile into town than it is to drive.

Back to my desire for some fresh air.

I intended to run an errand in the evening that would require a 30 minute walk each way. My wife said I was mad. My cold screamed at me that a warm coat and fresh air would clear my head. So I was determined. The post office trip earlier in the day would be a nice ‘taster’ and would prepare me for the longer trip later.

On the way back from the post office, those 15 minutes felt like 15 hours. When I got into my house I was good for nothing. No, I lie, I was the perfect cushion for the small white dog that believes it is my job to provide him with somewhere comfy to sleep and rest.

You know the expression, like death warmed up? Well, I felt like death before being warmed up.

If anything interesting happened during my walk there and back I probably missed it as I gradually turned into a zombie, placing one foot in front of the other, over and over.

A zombie? Maybe not that energetic...

Monday 3 February, 2020

I had just safely made my way across the main road having finished my business at my local post office today when the sound of a performance car seemingly accelerating hard caused me to look again.

From the roundabout a little way up the road from me hurtled a silver car. The driver was ‘giving it some beans,’ as those in the ‘know’ tend to say. Consequently the only details I managed to garner regarding the vehicle was the colour.

And the face of the driver as he held a mobile phone to his ear.

And the face of the young blonde woman sat next to him.

While he looked to be in his forties, she seemed barely old enough to have left school.

While he seemed intent on making his car accelerate as quickly as possible, her face said that she was seriously impressed by the power.

While his concentration was on his telephone call, her smile suggested that she felt comfortable being the older man’s ‘bit of fluff.’

Meanwhile, I contented myself with thinking that he might have been the moron who nearly took the nose off my car last week at the same spot as I watched him pick up speed and disappear down the narrowing road into town. Within seconds he had vanished. With no sounds of tyre squeal or breaking glass and plastic, I supposed that he had managed to make the bend after the next roundabout without hitting anyone or anything.

Maybe I was being uncharitable. Perhaps the young blonde was his daughter? Maybe the ‘mobile phone’ was merely a large hearing aid? It could be that the throttle was snagged by his laces and he was trying to slow down.

I must learn to stop making snap judgements.