Higher than expected …


I had my INR (international normalized ratio) test yesterday and it was a lot higher than I expected. My range is 2.5 to 3.5 with a target of 3.0. Yesterday it hit an all time high of 4.3. I have put a short guide to INR on a page on this site for those who are not aware of what the INR is.

I take Warfarin, which is an anticoagulant (commonly known as a blood thinner) to control my INR and I have a regular test to ensure that it stays within the range decided for me. I have been on Warfarin since my Mitral Valve replacement back in 2014. As I understood at the time, the surgeon has three options when performing the surgery. The ideal option is a repair, then the next option is a replacement with an organic valve (usually from a pig) or a mechanical valve. The surgeon will decide when the chest is opened which option is required. For me he opted for a mechanical valve. As it could be dangerous if blood clotted in or around the valve, an anticoagulant is prescribed to increase the time taken to clot.

For a long time, my test has been within the range and often hitting my target. Back in August last year, I had a small infection on my leg for which anti-biotics were prescribed. I was advised to get an INR test after taking the anti-biotics as they are known to have an effect on blood clotting times. And indeed this proved to be the case as my INR went as high as 3.9. It seemed to take a long time to get back to ‘normal’ but by the end of the year it was looking better.

I had my previous test mid January this year, and whilst it was in range, it was only just. The nurse decided to increase my Warfarin from 15mg to 16mg (3mg Sunday and Tuesday, 2mg every other day). Not a huge amount, but I think it proved a significant change. After yesterday it is now back to what I was taking before, which is 3mg Tuesday, 2mg every other day. I’m back for another test in three weeks and we shall just see what happens.

Can’t keep shifting the blame …


I don’t know what has happened to our postal service over the past few months. I know coronavirus has a lot to answer for, but twelve months down the line, you can’t keep blaming it for the current issues. We seem to have seen an increase in issues over the past two months.

Back in November, a parcel was delivered to the wrong address and annoyingly the people at that address moved house just a day or so after the parcel had been delivered. Since then two more, smaller parcels have gone astray. Last week three bank statements, all with the same address were delivered to three different addresses. One came to us and the other two went to neighbours at either side of us. The week before, K***’s new bank debit card was delivered to someone in the next street. We even had a letter from the DWP hand delivered by someone in the next village. It is not good.

On Friday, the post did not get delivered until just before 2pm. Now I’m old enough to remember when we used to get a second post, which was usually around mid-day, but that’s not really acceptable, considering how little is actually being delivered by the Royal Mail.

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I received a reply back from WordPress support regarding my ‘suggestions’ for the desktop app. I get the impression that it was a standard reply. Basically thanking me for reaching out‘ and for my feed-back‘. I am told that they ‘...can’t say whether or when they’d be implemented, but consider them noted…’ which is better than nothing. I do hope they consider them, as the app could be a great asset.

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Youngest son did come home for the weekend on Friday, which was great news. Because right up until his car and support worker pulled up outside the house, I had a very odd feeling that it may not come off. But he was in a happy mood when he got here and S**, his key support worker and friend, said that he was so happy that he could come home and see us. He will go back on Monday sometime and hopefully he will be home again in two weeks. His regular ‘home visit‘ pattern is to come to us every other Friday for three nights, but outbreaks of the virus at his care-home put paid to that again. So as long as there are no outbreaks on his unit and we stay clear, it could be back to normal(ish).

Good start to the day …


We have been hoping that our youngest can come home for a weekend visit today. He has been in ‘lock-down’ at his care home since he went back on 28th December due to him and others testing positive for the virus. The ‘lock-down’ on his unit was lifted on the 22nd and preparations have been in progress since the 10th.

So this morning, K*** and me had our Lateral Flow Test. Not a particular pleasant event, but the result came back negative. This (I believe) means that neither of us have the virus and that our son can come home for the weekend. So two great positives there.

Then, K*** got a text message from the doctors say that she can now book her test. Another great one. However, that was soon short lived as twenty minutes later she got another text from the doctors apologising for getting it wrong. Apparently the doctors had been given incorrect information. But here’s the interesting thing, she was half way booking online at the centre I had mine and decided that she would wait for the doctors to call. When the second message came through, she went back online and booked her appointment without a hitch. All a bit mysterious.

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I am giving the desktop version of WordPress another go. I had given up with the app because of issues I was not happy with. One of the issues is with the way when the app opens, it opens with the last post you have written with the app. In my opinion, it should open at a blank page with the option in the file menu to open a previous post. It gets a bit annoying if you create a couple of posts via the browser or Blogpad on the iPad, and then use the Desktop app and it opens an old post. In this (ver 6.10.0) and previous versions opening a new post is done via the Window menu which is a strange way of working. I have mentioned this in the forums and the answer I received was that the app was still a ‘work in progress’. There doesn’t appear to be much difference that I can see from the last few versions but I will persevere and see where it goes.

“Jab Done” …


I had my first Covid-19 jab yesterday. I had to go the a mass vaccination centre at Askham Bar Park & Ride car park, near York. I have to say it was an extremely well managed operation. There were signs on the A64, about a mile from the Park & Ride junction and once off the main road there were numerous signs showing the way. That, coupled with many officials directing cars made it one of the easiest things I had done.

Mass Vaccination Centre

Cars were parked with an empty bay separating each one. I was asked to wait in my car, and someone would come and tell me were to go. I was early by just 25 minutes and I told them I was not in any rush and didn’t want to queue jump. They told me that it wasn’t too busy and I could go straight in. Once in the centre, I queued along with the others for about 10 minutes before entering the ‘Vaccination Clinic’.

I was told to take a seat, whilst a member of the local Fire Service took my details. I had a list of my medications and dates of both my flu jab and last INR test. The doctor seemed a little reluctant at first, as he felt it would have been better if I had taken my last test last week. However I explained that if I had a problem, I could get an emergency INR test done the following day. I had the jab, waited in the car for 15 minutes and that was it. My second one is due on the 12th of May and the only side effect (and I’m not even sure it is a side effect) is a slight headache this morning.

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I noticed when I started WordPress up earlier in the week, that WordPress seemed to be a promoting a Podcasting service called Anchor.fm. After a bit of research, it seems that this is one of the biggest podcasting services around and it’s ‘owned’ by Spotify. From what I understand, it is only recently that WordPress.com has started using the service.

I have often wondered about doing some kind of podcast, but a couple of things have stopped me. Namely not knowing what to ‘cast’ about and the fact that I know what I sound like. I don’t like the sound of my own voice sometimes. There is a built in voice that will read text and convert it to audio. The downside is that the built-in voice is American as you would expect. I have tried this new service, and succeeded in converting one of my posts into an audio post (now deleted). It worked quite well, I thought but it sounded a little weird with the accent. I may have to give it another go using my own voice.

A few pics and a bit of writing …


I have recently been updating my ‘Google Sites‘ page. It’s a strange thing, but until a couple of months ago, I had forgotten I had the site. I have been asking one or two ex-colleagues and they tell me that we all created one as part of our departmental social network. It was back in 2009 and I never really used it at work, in fact I didn’t put anything on the site until the middle of last year when I received an email telling me that the site needed some maintenance. All that meant was that I needed to add a recovery email.

It’s not as intuitive as Google Blogger and like the way WordPress seems to be heading, content is created in blocks. Since I have the site, I thought I might as well use it, but I didn’t know what I would use it for. It then struck me. I do a little bit of ‘creative writing'(?) and was tending to put little bits on my Google blog, but it’s a quite boring site and I don’t really know what I can do there. With having this paid blog on here, it didn’t really make any sense to use Blogger. But I didn’t want to post my writing attempts on WordPress, as I thought I would have to create a new page to put the musings, to keep them separate and I didn’t want to do that. I think some blogs can look a bit messy with many pages.

So that’s what my ‘Google Sites‘ is going to be used for. Because scrolling through a long page full of text may be a little tiring, I have interspersed the writing with some of my photographs. All the writing is my own, and one day I shall bundle them all together and publish my own book, although it will probably be some kind of eBook. It is still a ‘work in progress’ but I will keep updating it (when I remember.)

It arrived …


My invitation to book a Covid-19 vaccination arrived on Saturday. The way the letter was worded gave the impression that I would get a letter from the doctors surgery soon advising me on the dates they were offering. By yesterday (Thursday) nothing was forthcoming. I decided to have a look on the local Medical Centre’s website to see If I could find anymore information. There it was, on the front page of the site. I had to book my ‘Jab-spot’ online , the Government website as they were not offering the vaccine locally yet.

So, off I trot to Gov.UK website and quickly found the ‘booking’ page. It was quite easy to navigate and I soon had booked both first and second jab at a vaccination centre just under 10 miles away. Sorted! Now we have to await for my wife’s invitation which should be in the next phase.

This morning, less than 18 hours since I had booked my appointment, I received a txt message from the local Medical Centre. The txt said, in it’s simplest form:

“You have recently been invited to have your coronavirus vaccine at a mass vaccination centre. If you would rather come to the ******** site please contact our reception team who can arrange for an invitation to be sent.”

I gave them a call. Unfortunately they were unable to offer me the dates I had booked, and It would be probably be the 1st week in March. I declined. The vaccination centre is 11 miles away, as opposed to the Medical Centres 5 miles. Not really much in it and as my car is getting 2 months to the tank of petrol, a bit of a run would not do it any harm. I just thought it was typical that if I had just waited for another day, I could have gone really local.

Coincidence or … ?


I use Microsoft Money 2002 to manage a number of financial accounts locally on my laptop. It is no longer supported by Microsoft, but still works the way I like. I run it in a compatibility mode as if it is running on a Windows XP machine. There has been a number or rumours that the next update to Windows may disable some compatibility modes in order to force customers to purchase newer products. These rumours, whilst not being confirmed or denied by Microsoft tend to flare up now and again and there has been rather more this year than previous years.

In order to ensure that I have some kind of continuity, I have started to look at maybe using Excel to do the job. I had encountered a few problems with formatting and a couple of formulas. Nothing I tried seemed to work, so I posted a question on an Excel forum that I used when I working for the council. After about 30 minutes or so, I got a reply. I followed the instructions, but only partly did what I wanted. I thanked the responder and gave a bit more detail. The next reply came back within 5 minutes. Once applied, everything worked as I wanted.

Now for the coincidence. This morning I received an email from Microsoft. I get regular updates as I have a Microsoft account that came with Office 365. This email was advising me that the new Microsoft Budget Template was now available in Excel. Prior to today, the template was only available in America. First impression is that it is something that I can work with if Money 2002 is blocked.

Was it just a coincidence ?

** Update … it appears that the Money in Excel is still not available in the UK. Microsoft are (supposedly) looking into why I received the email **

So annoying …


I’m still on my quest to find the best blog editor for me. Open Live Writer was my BlogDeskpersonal favourite but it seems to have been forgotten. The last release was back in 2017 and even the copyright statement has not been updated since 2020. I have been tempted by reviews (some of them a year or two old) that BlogDesk is a very good editor and is actually used by at least one of the “Happiness Engineers”.

However (and these days, there is always a “However”) I am having real problems setting the thing up. I can get part way, then the set-up ask for my “Blog ID” with a button to automatically find the ID. This doesn’t work. So I can manually enter the ID. But where is the Blog ID on my WordPress blog? I have been through all of the settings I can find and there doesn’t appear to be anything that relates to a Blog ID. 

FrustratedI have searched the Internet and have had a few ideas thrown at me but all seem to fail. I have logged a topic on the WP support forum, but have had nothing from there. So I’m stuck.

** An update from WordPress, I am told that my site needs to be on a Business Plan to use a third party editor. Which doesn’t seem quite right as I have used third party editors before. **

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Now I’m not anti-cyclist, in fact for many years I was extremely pro-cyclist. I used always cycle to work when we lived in our previous house. Even after passing my driving test and buying a car, I often cycled to work. I have a greatcyclists deal of respect for the whole ethos that surrounds cycling. But I was really annoyed by a cyclist today, who seemed to have either no knowledge of the Highway Code or thought that it didn’t apply to him. I was driving back from the supermarket today and was approaching a bend in the road when a cyclist in front of me moved from the left-hand side of the road to the centre, indicating he was turning right. All very good you may think. but no! The road he was turning into had a No Entry sign as it is one way. He seemed oblivious of the sign and the rules. Which really winds me up. It was lucky that I have driven that way many times as it is a favourite route for horse riders, so I wasn’t going at the maximum speed limit.

Tech woes part the third …


I suppose one of the most baffling problems I had over the past couple of weeks was with Windows TaskTS Scheduler. I needed to run a task to open and run an Excel spreadsheet. Excel would open a specific sheet and then a macro would update the sheet and save it in one of my cloud storage areas. 

Error 1I have done this every six months over the past four years, without any problems, until now. The task is a “one time” task as the file name changes each time it is saved. So I opened up Task Scheduler, and immediately received  one of two similar error messages. These seem to point to some problem with updating some software. I closed each message and set up a random test task to see if it was still working and all seemed to be good. The test ran fine which I took to mean that the issue might not be as problematic as I first thought. But it was annoying and I needed to stop it happening.

I began to trawl through the various tasks that were set to run, and to be honest there wasn’t that many and I could not find any that related to any kind of update. I did find a number of tasks that related to software I no longer use such as Adobe Acrobat Reader and Photoshop Express, which should have been removed when I uninstalled them.

So it was back to the forum that I use, to ask the question and see what came up. Like most help forums it wasWoody a couple of hours before anybody came up with anything. When help arrived, unfortunately it didn’t help much.  But then I got a message from an old colleague. FoxThey seemed to think that it may be some software that was new or had recently been updated. There were two programmes that had a recent file date. Firefox browser was one and an application called PyCharm that is an IDE (Pythonintegrated development environment) that I was using as a front end for my learning the Python programming language.

PyChI removed both and the problem disappeared. So I reinstalled Firefox and checked Task Scheduler. Still no problem which led me to believe that PyCharm was the culprit. It was confirmed when I reinstalled PyCharm and the errors returned. That has gone for now with some feedback to the software house. I now need to look for another free IDE to work with Python.

Nearly forgot the title …


Some people are really quite lazy. I had to take some bottles to the recycling bank in the village. The banks are Bottle Bankabout 300 yards away from the house so for me I have to use the car and I usually combine the trip with a visit to some local shops. I set off and as I approached the main road, a car reversed out of a drive at the end of our road. I stopped to allow him to get out and he waved a thankyou. He turned onto the main road and sped off quickly reaching 30mph (in a 20mph zone) before turning into the bottle bank site. He was out of the car, lighting a cigarette when I pulled up. He opened his car boot, took out 2 small glass Coke bottles and dropped them into the recycle bin. He climbed back into his car and sped of back the way he came. As I passed the end of my road on the way to the Post Office, I saw his car parked back in his drive. Considering that the recycle area is only about 100 yards from the end of our road, I thought it was amazing that he drove there.

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We had some hopeful news yesterday. Our youngest son, who is in lockdown at his residential CV19(3)care place my be able to come for a ‘home visit’ from 22nd of February. I say hopefully, as it all depends on there being no more Covid-19 outbreaks.  All the residents and staff will have had there vaccinations by then so it is quite possible. However I’m not that optimistic. Things like this have a knack of “coming up behind you and smacking the back of your head“, which was a phrase my ex-manager used to say. But we shall wait and see and keep everything crossed.

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screenshot_20210206-165022-1Looking like we are heading for a good week of snow and cold winds again. It is also looking like it might be a lot worse than last time. We are told that is very cold wind coming in from Northern Europe which will prevent the fast thaw we had before. Although the weather forecast seems to depend on which television/radio/app that you use. It also depends on what time of day you check the forecast. I have doubts on the accuracy of the outlooks sometimes. I’m sure the forecast on my phone app has changed more than once in the past couple of days.

… and there’s more.


Just when I thought I could put the week and it’s problems to bed, the issue with the dishwasher raised it’s ugly head again. Mrs H. had gone out for a walk and I thought I would sort the dishwashing out as there was quite a bit. It was all loaded and I set it off on the usual short programme.

I was upstairs and when I came down I saw that the wash was over. I began to unload, when I spotted the tell-tale sign that something was amiss. The machine had not fully drained again, and there was a swearingpool of water in the bottom. You would not believe the language that was flying about. All I could think at the time was that it was going to cost me another £50.00 to get it fixed!

DrainAfter a short time of deep breathing, I thought I would have a go at fixing it myself. I remembered what the plumber had done last time. So I began to try and get the water out so I could have a better look. It is surprising how much water lay in the bottom of the machine. At best I would say that there was about 2/3 of an average washing up bowl and there’s me trying to drain it out with a small plastic cup. It took about 15 minutes before enough water had been removed to enable me to have a poke around, to find what was causing the jam. Nothing! 

More of the bad language ensued before I remembered that there was a small plate that covered the pump, where something get caught. I tried to remove the plate with a small PhilipsTorx screwdriver and then a similar size Pozi Drive screwdriver. Neither worked and the screw would not budge. Out came the head-torch and magnifying glass which revealed that I needed a star screwdriver or “Torx” driver.

PlasticOnce I found the correct size it was an easy task to remove the plate. Almost at once I saw the offending matter. It was again, a small piece of plastic that had caught in the flow pipe. I removed it and fished around to see if there was anything else in there. There didn’t appear to be, so with bated breath I set the machine off on a cold rinse. It seemed to have worked. All the parts were put back, and I programmed the machine for a hot wash as before and everything was working as expected. At the end of the wash I trepidly opened the machine to find that everything was all normal again and much to my embarrassment I exclaimed out loud “Who’s the Daddy!”

Fingers crossed that is all the stress for now.Fingers

Stress and Tech – hand in hand


A bit of a stressful week this week. Our broadband contract was due to expire at the end of the month, and although it would continued (they usually do with Sky) the cost would have escalated quite a way, based on the initial quote they gave us. So they “invite” us to call them to see if we can get a better deal. My wife deals old routerwith this kind of thing, as I don’t have the patience and whilst on the call on Monday asked about a new Router. We have always been told, by new routerSky to ask about equipment whenever we renew, even if there’s not a problem, which there wasn’t. The person that she dealt with said that there would be no problem and that there would be a new one in the post that day. As good as her word, the new router arrived on Wednesday morning.

The first issue that we were hit with was that is was about 1 inch wider and longer allPig in Mud round. It also was an upright one as opposed to the flat one we were used to. This meant a whole rearrangement of my desk for the thing to fit. After a bit of “huffing” and “puffing” I managed to place it in the best position. Now came the mammoth task of setting up all the devices with the new router. However, I was in my element doing this. It brought many memories from my work life. Dashing from device to device with my check-list and passwords, I was like a pig in a muddy puddle.

Then I hit the first real problem!

The new router would not connect to the Sky Q box! I tried everything, but it just would not happen. This of course meant that many of the features that came with the contract were not available. For example, we could not open Netflix. It also meant that the youngest son’s TV and mini box didn’t Help-Deskwork either. Not although he probably won’t be back here until April, we needed to get it fixed straight away. My wife rang Sky and after a 45 minute wait in a queue managed to explain the problem. The phone was passed to me to go through some troubleshooting (which I had already done) before the help-desk operator decided that an engineer was required. He was booked in for Thursday between 12:00 an 17:00. 

Then came problem two!

The printer we use is a wi-fi connected printer that we all share. the new router would not connect to the printer. I followed all the included instructions (again!) but still nothing. By now, I was beginning to get a little Printerbit annoyed. I looked online at the HP printer site and followed all their ‘helpful’ ideas, but to no avail. In the end, Google came to my rescue. And it was a simple fix. All I needed to do was to uninstall the printer, then reinstall it. Next problem. The printer installation media was on a DVD and this laptop does not have one. I ended up downloading the installation software from the internet. After that, it all went really smoothly which just left the Sky Q box not connected and the help desk advised that the engineer would get everything working, one way or another.

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The engineer duly arrived at the appointed time and we conducted the call through the living room window. They are not allowed into the house because of the virus. We went through a number of questions. and heCable asked what the new router was. When he saw it he said there had been some problems with that type. We proceed to try and connect using an ethernet cable, which worked straight away. But as soon as the cable was removed, the connection was lost. He came up with two solutions: number one was to permanently connect with a cable, but that would mean lifting the carpet to hide the cable which was not a good idea. Option two was to revert back to the old router. That seemed the best idea, and he gave us the latest model of the old one. Once plugged in, all the problems went away, although I still had to reinstall the printer again.

Once again, I spent an hour doing my impression of a “pig in a puddle” whilst I connected all the devices, but touch wood, there are no more issues.

I suppose, at the end of the day, that the old maxim “If it’s not broken, then don’t fix it” applies here.

 

 

A bit of a pain …


It’s been one of those annoying days with my tech. It started, or at least I first noticed it today, when I was working my way through some news items on MSN News. I mostly use the Google Chrome browser these days, as it tends to be just the first one I select and I’m used to it. I’m not keen on he MS Edge browser and Firefox seems to getting far too bloated. Opera would be my second choice, but I’m digressing.

So, there was one item that was about someone trying to do wheelies on a motorbility scooter, that looked to be quite funny. But unusually, there was no ‘play’ button on the video. I thought it must be an error when it Resetwas uploaded and moved onto the next item. Once again, there was a video with no obvious way of playing it. This was a job for a Google search. There were a number of results, most of which told me to ‘update Flash Player’ which was wrong, because Flash is no longer supported or to update Google Chrome. This was also wrong as that was only updated on Thursday, so I suspect that the update may have corrupted some of the files. The only other suggestion that seemed to have any merit, was one to reset Chrome to it’s default.

The reset explained that it would clear all my cookies and temporary data, but would leave my passwords and bookmarks intact. It was as good as its word, uptown a point. One of the things I had forgotten was that sites where I request to ‘keep me logged in’ relies on cookies to remember. Now that the cookies had been cleared, I had to re-log in to all those sites.

I eventually managed to get everything back to ‘my normal’ but it took most of Saturday.

Well p155ed off now …


GovThis morning I tried to do two things online with the UK Government website. Firstly, I wanted to renew my driving license before the 11 month COVID-19 extension expires. I have got until May but I thought I would get it out of the way now. I can’t do it online for one reason, which will be revealed in a short while.

The second job, I wanted to do was to check my National Insurance credits as my State Pension quote came this morning and it wasn’t as much as I had been led to expect. Again, not able to do so for the same reason as above.

The reason I am unable to perform these simple tasks (and the website says it’s simple) is that I don’t have a valid UK Passport. I don’t even have an expired one. I have not needed to go abroad for over 25 years, so why would I have/need a passport?Driving

I am now in a position whereby I will need to either post an application form, with a new passport photograph and a cheque(!) for £17.00 or I can go to a Post Office with my expired card and a payment of £21.50, which is a little extortionate in my opinion. I’m also struggling to understand where ‘simple’ comes in.