Not really retirement, but . . .


This post is an attempt at a response to the Weekly Prompts Wednesday Challenge (fingers crossed I get this right)

Back at the beginning of 2016 our Head of Service, brought our team together for it’s monthly ‘Team Talk’. The theme, if you could call it that, was staff cuts. There had been a lot of hushed chatter among some of the more senior members of the team regarding the reduction of office staff in the department. The Council’s solution was a programme called ‘Early Leavers Initiative’ or ELI. What people liked to think was that it was Early Retirement, but was actually Voluntary Redundancy, with the benefit of being able to draw down the works pension scheme early, albeit slightly reduced.

It was made clear to everyone in the room, that the Department were looking for ‘volunteers’ to take advantage of this. It was also clear that this was a case of ‘jump before you are pushed’. If that had been the case, then it would have been compulsory redundancy, with no arrangement to take the pension early. After a lot of discussion at home, I decided I would go for it.

Not the real cake!

The day came, and it seemed to be just like any other day. I was taking calls and trying to keep my excitement under control. My manager asked what time I wanted to leave, and I had worked out my hours so that I could finish at three pm. At about half past two the office manager appeared with a large cake which was shared with the staff on duty. It was significant that my line manager and the service head weren’t present.

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I decided that I would have a couple of weeks living the life of luxury, then get a part time job. It took a lot longer for something to come up. After about 18 months, my current part-time job suddenly happened. Now furloughed (as at 11/03/2021) I am now just waiting to return. It is not looking god, but I will have to just wait and see. But . . . on the 19th April this year (2021) I will have reached my state pension age and will have to decide the future. Do I carry on with two days a week? Or do I cut down to one day a week? Or . . . do I just stop all together?

It’s not the way I’d do it . . .


I had a need to find a post for someone to link to. I did not know the title or the category and the only information I had was that the post was from the end of 2009. I could not find a way of doing this, except by going to the My Sites > Posts section and scrolling through page after page. This would not be so bad, but with a large number of posts it gets a little tiresome. I have nearly 1000 posts to scroll through (not boasting … really) and to find the correct post too a good 10 minutes.

I then found it. Just by accident. There was some posts in the ‘Trash’ folder and I usually delete them regularly and I know how to do this. That is when the fog cleared. I went to ‘WP Admin’ and selected the ‘Posts’ option and it was there. All the posts were listed and I was able to list the posts by month, using the ‘All Dates’ drop-down box.

I did log a call on the WordPress.com forums, but have now closed it as resolved. Just got to try and remember for the next time.

It ain’t going to work …


We have had a 20mph speed limit in the village for about a year now. Maybe a bit longer, but I would say that well over 80% of drivers take no notice at all. The problem is, and this is my opinion, there is no enforcement. None whatsoever. We have the main 20 mph zone signs as you enter the village together with smaller repeater signs, but that’s it basically. There is one of those ‘smiley’ face signs near the school, but that is mainly ignored by the majority.

A great deal of the time, these “speed merchants”, (and again, my opinion) are local people. People who know that they are not going to get caught. I was at the local bottle bank last week, when a van went past. The sign showed that he was travelling at 35mph. The lady who was walking past stated that “… they should not be allowed to enter ...”. I had to explain that the van and driver was from the village and in fact from the same road that I live on.

It was announced in the Parish Magazine, that the Parish Council was putting a bid to purchase a Mobile SID (Speed Indication Device) to raise speed awareness in areas of concern. I don’t think it will have any effect. If drivers already ignore the sign near the school, are they going to take any notice of any signs. Back to my opinion again, but the only thing that will stop this is proper enforcement. Signs at the entrance roads saying that mobile Speed Cameras are in use, together with a Police Office with a Speed Gun would be the better idea. Nothing gets a message home better than a fine.

However, the latest idea is to have a sticker on your refuse bin that tells drivers to slow down. A sticker! On a bin that is only put out one day a week. Really? Is that the best they can come up with?

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.

Interesting …


This is an interesting development from the Daily Mail online:

Shopping Trips

Just over a week ago, I needed to go to our local Aldi. The car park was full as usual, but there is a Screw-Fix next door with  very limited parking and people going there tend to use Aldi for their parking. Now what amazed me was the number of families that were shopping together. Now I can quite understand a single person taking his/her kids shopping with them, if there is nobody at home to look after them. But there can be no excuse for one of the families that was out that day.

ShoppingThe ‘group’ consisted of a man and a woman, I would say in their mid-forties, a youth, possibly aged 14 or 15, two young girls were were probably no more than 7 years and another boy who would have been about 11 years old. These are only guesses at the ages. Now, the two girls were sitting in one trolley pushed by whom I think would be the male parent. The female ‘parent’ was pushing another trolley and loading food and supplies into that. The youth was just moping around, with his ‘ear-buds’ in as if he didn’t want to be there and the 7 year old was racing up and down the aisles on his scooter.

I may be wrong, but I could not see any justification for them all being there together.

 

More up and down …


downloadThis week has been a bit up and down again. The dishwasher was fixed. It seems there was a small piece of plastic stuck in the pump. It was only about the size of a small child’s fingernail, but was jamming the pump and stopping it from working. A local person came Tuesday lunchtime and fixed it within about 30 minutes, and that included having a look at our oven which hadn’t worked properly for a couple of years. That’ll be fixed over the weekend. We are going to keep this guy’s number.

Then came the downer! Our youngest son is Autistic and is in the ASDprocess of being phased in full-time residential care. He had been going on a Monday, sleeping 11 nights in his own flat and then coming here for a weekend visit. They test him on a weekly basis for C19 and unfortunately, he tested positive. They let us know yesterday morning. It’s a mystery how he got it though. His care team haven’t tested positive and being Autistic he doesn’t socialise with anyone else in his unit, so who knows. He seems to be okay and not showing any symptoms, but they are keeping a close eye on him. All very distressing. He was supposed to be coming home next week to have dental surgery, but that’s all put on the back burner for now. Looks like he’ll be on ‘lock-down’ until the end of March. The amazing thing is that for a person, because of his condition doesn’t accept changes easily he seems to somehow understand what is going on. We are very proud of him.

On the upside though, my father-in-law received his 1st vaccine jab on Tuesday. Which was a great relief for everyone.

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Then this morning we awoke to this scene:IMG_20210114_104851004_HDR It was expected, but not the amount that we have. At the time of writing (12:15) there looks to be about 4″ to 5″ at least. It seems to be getting a bit lighter and may even turn to rain later in the day. Not sure when it started.  I had to get up for a drink of water at around 5:00 and there was nothing then, so it must have come down quickly after then.

A warning … maybe


I just had a new follower this morning:  “http://utraker.com/ZWvom&#8221;. As usual, I quickly went to the site to check out their content. However, the hyperlink redirects you to another site named:  “http://utraker.com/ZWvom&#8221;. Very odd I thought, but where the danger is, that my laptop showed this message:-Warning

An Anti-virus and Malware check is now running!

Not had the best of starts …


Firstly there was the new ‘lock-down’, which was not unexpected if a little late. Secondly, the dishwasher has packed in. We think it may be the pump but are waiting for someone to have a look. Then I had the sad news that a former colleague had died. DWP2Thankfully not the virus. Then we were hit with the snow, again not unexpected. The final kick in the nether regions came with the post yesterday. I got my “State Pension Invitation!” Another thing that was expected, but something I didn’t really think about too much. I do think it is a bit of a strange way of putting it, an “… invitation to get your State Pension“. An “invitation” to get something I’ve been working towards since 1971. Are they really expecting me to pass on it? 

Many people thing I have retired already. However, leaving the Council back in 2016, was actually a form of  Voluntary Redundancy. They called it the “Early Leavers Initiative” or ELI. It was basically redundancy with the ability to take a slightly reduced workplace pension early. Everything just fell into place at the time and with the rumours of compulsory redundancy in the air, it was the right thing to do … jump before I was pushed.

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Step ShawlI finally finished the piece of knitting I had been working on for the past two months. It’s called a “Step Shawl”, but it’s more like a neck warmer than a shawl. I used Aran yarn on 3.5mm straight needles. It got a bit tricky towards the end as I nearly had too many stitches and should have changed to circulars needles. I’ll know next time. I had started this pattern before using some 4ply and had managed to knit six ‘steps’ before it accidently fell off my lap, dropping four stitches which ran to the beginning of the piece. After advice from fellow knitters, I added a ‘life-line’ every couple of steps, just in case. I’m quite pleased with it, but I’ve no idea what to do next.

It’s not embarrassing … really


Bottle Bank2Well maybe, a little. I went to the bottle bank today. We do get through quite a few bottles, but the recycling bank is just around the corner so it makes sense to me to go every so often with a good load. I have a prepared statement for anyone who queries the amount, and that is that “… I collect them for others in the street … older ones who can’t get about …”. It seems to work, although if it is someone from our street … well I tend just to smile and comment on the weather.

It was quite tricky this morning though. The wet roads had frozen during the night, and then this morning we had rain, and this froze also. So it was a bit hairy getting the bottles to the car or should I say getting the car to the bottles. I was told many years ago that walking on frozen roads needs a unique style of walking. You need to walk as if your ankles are tied together, so that you take very small steps. My friend likened it to ” … walking like one of the three little maids in The Mikado …” I may look like a fool doing it, but it seems to work.

It was cold last night though. Our heating boiler is programmed to come on at 06:45, which just seems to warm the house nicely for us getting up between 07:30 and 08:00. This morning I awoke for some reason at around 04:00. It happens some nights,Frost and I’m putting it down to age. I turned over, but then heard the boiler kick in. Cursing, I went downstairs thinking that we had moved the timer on in the evening and the heating had not gone off. But the controller was showing that the heating was off. that meant that the ‘frost-stat’ over the boiler had triggered due to the cold. It does that so that the water in the boiler does not freeze. Doesn’t happen often.

Beyond belief …


Sometimes, things happen that are quite honestly “Beyond Belief.” Our youngest son sometimes proves that. R… is 28 and Autistic. We are gradually phasing him in to full time residential. At present he goes on Monday morning and returns 11 days later for a weekend visit. He gives us the impression that he really enjoys  his life there.

ppeHe has a regular care-team, his own flat and his own motorbility car. During the ‘lock-down’ he went on the 23rd March and did not return until 10th July. Then again he went on the 19th October and was not allowed home, under the rules until 11th December.

All this, he seemed to take in his stride. In fact, we were more stressed and traumatised than he seemed to be. His care team kept us well informed  and rang everyday to let us know what he had been up to and with a weekly FaceTime we just about got through it.

White-one.jpgNow the interesting thing is that his daily life there is different to here. He does things there that we could never even dream he would do. When he is here, his daily routine is to sit in his room, with his laptop and TV. He will come downstairs for his lunch, then goes back to his room and that is it. Occasionally he will come back downstairs and use my laptop for a while.

Whilst in his flat, and this is the thing that amazes us, he takes on household jobs. We have photos of him mopping his kitchen floor, cooking his dinner (usually beans or sausage rolls) loading the washing machine and various other tasks around the place.

He was able to come here for Christmas, although there were times when it looked impossible, but his care-manager and all the teams put enough precautions in place for it to happen, so on Christmas Eve he came home. He would have had to come here anyway as he has a hospital appointment on Tuesday at which his legal guardian (horrible phrase) has to be present.

Now, on Christmas morning, we witnessed first hand something Lichfield Cathedralthat completely amazed us both. In fact, I still cannot get my head around it. My wife and me were downstairs getting things ready, as you do when I that he hadn’t had his morning drink of milk. I took his cup upstairs.

There was some typical Christmas church music playing and I assumed that my wife had not turned the radio off. How wrong I was. Normally, he would have one of the children’s channels on his TV , and he would also have a children’s YouTube video playing on his laptop.

CanterburyNot today. The TV was turned down and he had on his laptop a video of a Christmas church service. This played for an hour and a half before he started another similar video. I later found out that the first one was the Christmas Eve service from Lichfield Cathedral from 2000 and the second one was the previous nights service from Canterbury Cathedral.

By lunchtime he was back to watching old episodes of The Telly Tubbies as if nothing had happened. He did used to go to the local church to see the Christmas service when he was a school, but how he made the decision to watch that kind of video at that particular times, amazed us both