Tuesday, 29 March 2011

"The optician will see you now..."

I wear glasses.

I got my first pair, for reading, when I was about twelve years old, was wearing them full time from sometime in the 1980s and now need varifocals to compensate for the deficiencies of genetics and age.

I don't actually like having to wear spectacles, but have got so used to them that even when contact lenses have been suggested as an alternative, I find that I'm reluctant to change. It's as if I feel that my face would be incomplete without them.

It's been a couple of years since my last eye-test, so while I was in town this afternoon, I went into Specsavers to see if they could fit me in. As luck would have it, I only had to wait for two minutes to get an appointment; an all time record for me.

The test confirmed what I'd suspected and I needed a new prescription, so next Wednesday I'll be collecting my new specs.

It worries me that so many people think that they "don't need glasses".
There are thousands of them out there, insisting that they can see perfectly, when the truth is that they really ought to get their eyes checked and get some corrective lenses to see through.
I can understand their reluctance though. It's clear that the percentage of people who wear glasses is far higher than it was when I was a kid, but there's still a sort stigma associated with needing glasses.
Vanity requires that you don't display your imperfections and such an obvious indication that your eyesight is less than perfect, as a pair of glasses, is hard to deny.
This a potentially dangerous vanity, particularly if you drive a car. I've even heard people say that they've got glasses for driving, but they don't wear them because they make them look stupid.
I seems that they'd rather knock some poor sod off his bicycle because they didn't see him, than appear unfashionable.

Having my eyes tested and getting a decent pair of properly prescribed binns isn't going to guarantee that I won't have an accident, but if I do, at least I won't have to spend the rest of my life knowing that I could have done something really simple that could have prevented it happening.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Ask a stupid question...

I've just been doing my "Civic Duty" by filling in the 2011 Census form.

Is it just me, or is Question 19 a bit poorly thought out?

If the answer is "Not at all", how likely is it that I can read and understand the question?

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Talk to the organ grinder, not the monkey

I wouldn't normally post about something that is so far from my personal experience, but the plight of the people in parts of Japan is impossible to ignore.
To experience an earthquake or a tsunami is hard enough for any nation, but to cope with both of these natural disasters and then have to respond to the threat of a meltdown at  a nuclear power plant and the prospect of an uncontrolled release of radiation represents an exceptional challenge.

As if the effects of this compound disaster aren't enough to contend with, the people who are part of the rescue effort, or trying to get things working again, or trying to find missing members of their family, or simply just trying to stay alive also have to put up with the world's media arriving by the planeload, looking for ever more dramatic things to film for the rest of us to watch on our 50 inch plasma TVs.

Every news crew wants an exclusive, so the temptation to squeeze more drama into any report must be hard to resist and it would take a very special kind of news editor to lead with the facts from a well informed source when they have some grim video footage, accompanied by an apocolyptic commentary by "their reporter at the scene of devastation", to open their news bulletin with a doom-laden splash.

Well I don't trust them. I don't believe that  they can bear to let the facts spoil what, to them, is just another story. I particularly don't trust news-mongers to tell us anything reliable if it involves science.
I don't want to get my news from these monkeys.

If, like me, you want to find out what's really going on at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, you might like to take the advice of Charles Stross, and have a look at the International Atomic Energy Agency site. The situation is clearly presented, without any tabloid melodrama, by people who are a whole lot better qualified to explain this complex and continually evolving situation than a bunch of TV journalists who know more about camera angles than containment vessels.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

The world is full of nutters... (Thank Heavens)

The technology that delivers the music we listen to has come a long way during my lifetime.
I was reminded just how much things have changed by a recent post on Techno-Billies.

The first record player I can remember was a varnished mahogany box with a handle at the side to wind up the clockwork motor, and louvred vents at the front to control the volume of the sound that was produced by a steel needle as it tracked the groove in a 10 inch disc, spinning at 78 rpm. I can't have been more than four years old, but the memory of The Goons singing "I'm walking backwards for Christmas" is still clear, more than fifty years later.

During the time that has passed, the way we listen to music has changed almost beyond recognition. Now, my entire music collection is available, stored on pocket sized sliver of digital wizardry that barely weighs as much as that single, scratchy recording.

So bearing in mind the compactness of modern audio equipment, the ease with which we can use it and the quality of the sound that it produces, I find it hard to understand just what possessed  Simon Jansen of Auckland, New Zealand to build his "Steampunk Record Player".

Whatever drove him to create this work of whimsy, I salute him.
The Sex Pistols have never sounded better.

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Good News From All Over

Once in a while, you hear some good news.
This is particularly pleasing when it comes along against the background of general misery and drabness that seems the default setting for a lot of people at present.

I'm very happy to pass on a couple of bits of news that are, for me at least, cause for celebration.

Oddly enough, I received the second good news bulletin via the bearer of the first bit of good news.
Pretty much on the same day that "Rage Against The Lymphoma" blogged that she has had the final dose of chemotherapy in what has been several months of extreme unpleasantness, she gleefully announced the birth of her sister's baby boy, who just happens to be my newest great-nephew.

So congratulations to Mr and Mrs Realmenwritelongcopy, "Hello" to Jonah William and thanks Rage' for spreading all the good news.
Not a stereotypical stork

Oh yes, I nearly forgot. Jonah weighed 8lb 10oz.