D4D

There's something I should tell you. I'm not left-handed either.

Archive for the category “Thoughts”

One of Those

Customer-services-wise, it’s been one of those weekends again…

While driving home on Friday evening, the windscreen got hit right on the edge by a stone, and cracked. Obviously the impact speed must’ve been fairly high, and it caught at just the right point, so it’s a fairly significant crack, and one that would almost certainly fail the MOT test (which thankfully is no time soon)

So when I got home I called the car insurance’s glass repair/replace number, and organised getting the windscreen replaced. (A fix isn’t going to be feasible, it’s new windscreen time) That all went ok, until we got to their next available appointment.  Which was… May 9th.  Yep, three weeks time, to replace a windscreen.  Safe to say, not happy.  I went back to the insurance company direct, explained why I wasn’t happy with that – I don’t even want to think about what would happen if I were in an accident while the windscreen were damaged. I’m willing to bet that they’d deny the claim, even with having the appointment in place, and the insurance company informed.   They’re like that.

Anyway, they gave me a different number to call. Same company, different number, and as soon as I was speaking to them, suddenly a slot came free for a week’s time, rather than three. How amazing.

So it’s lined up to be sorted this coming weekend.  I’m still not entirely happy about it, but it’s better than waiting nearly a month (because of other things, the replacement would actually have been another week after the ‘first available’ slot…) for it to be done.

 

Then today, I looked at my business account online, and there’s a couple of transactions I don’t recognise, and know I haven’t made. I call the bank, get them recorded as fraudulent, get the money back and so on.  And that’s all OK.

But.  But.   The pattern of these transactions was precisely the pattern that’s used in fraudulent transactions.  Two small (or smallish) transactions, this time both at the very top of the contactless transaction limit, in very quick succession, with a company I haven’t dealt with before.  And then, within twenty-four hours, another large-value transaction, also with a company I haven’t dealt with in a while.  That’s the absolute fingerprint for a fraud transaction – the first two check the card’s validity etc., the second is to make sure it hasn’t triggered systems or been registered as stolen, and then they try to profit from it.

As it turns out, in my case the big transaction was a valid one, but that doesn’t change the issue.

So that pattern of three transactions should have triggered every automatic fraud detection system, and put a hold on my card that would’ve then been dealt with during the big transaction. That’s what’s happened before with the same bank, the same account – except they were valid transactions that just happened to be in that order.  And no-one can currently tell me why it’s not been triggered this time.

I’m not harmed in either case. I’ve got the money back, I’ll be getting a new card, and everything’s fine.  I’ve raised a complaint about it, and I’m pretty sure that absolutely nothing will happen with it.

But yeah, the two things over three days, it all just gets a bit wearing, I could do with not having to deal with it.

Ah well. Fun and games.

Property Inspection

One of the other things that came up last week was the annual property inspection and safety check by my landlord.  It’s my sixth year in this house, and I don’t mind the safety checks at all.  (Yes, they’re a legal requirement, but still, I’m happy for them to happen)

Getting them done is always a pain in the bum – every time I leave them a note to say please make sure the cats aren’t allowed upstairs, or trapped upstairs when they leave.  Every year, they’re upstairs and closed in the bedroom.   I get it, they’re not cat people etc., but jesus Fuck, is it really that difficult?

Anyway, this year, I decided to stay home while they did the checks, and now I can see why it all happens. They just leave doors open, no thought of anything else, get the jobs done, and then bugger off. I’m not surprised, but it still just strikes me as being a bit slack.  Or maybe I’m too tense/stroppy about these things. I don’t know.

On the other hand, it also meant I got to finally meet my landlord. Again, six years in the place, and we’d never met.  So it was good to do that, and for both of us to be able to put faces to names and so on.  (Well, I think it’s a good thing so far. He might just decide I’m a disaster area now, and get rid of me come November…)

But all’s well with the house, too.  A couple of small maintenance things and so on, but nothing urgent or needing lots of stuff done.

And at least the bloody cats weren’t trapped in the bedroom this time.  I class that as a win.

Aging – Making Improvements

Following on from my general feelings of being flattened and feeling old, I’ve also been doing some stuff to try and alleviate it a bit, or at least to give myself better information.

The first part of that was a general health review, a visit to the GP to get basic information, as well as booking myself in to get blood tests and so on. (I try to do that every couple of years, as there’s a family history of stuff like underactive thyroid, type two diabetes, heart issues and the like.) As usual, that all came back fine.

The blood-tests were more of a pain in the arse – mainly because I live right on the border of two health authorities, and my surgery refers me to the authority that’s not the one for where I work. So it took me a couple of weeks before I could be bothered to go that way and get them done.  But again, once it was done and I’d bothered rinnging up to get my results, everything was fine there too. A couple of figures that aren’t perfect, but everything’s still well within acceptable range of ‘normal’. Which is enough for me. I’ll probably work on them a bit, but it’s nothing that’s even important, let alone urgent.

As usual, they all say I’m too heavy – file under “Sherlock, Shit, No” – but then when they see the figures, and the speeds/distances I usually walk at, they seem to worry less.  I’m still working on losing some again, but it does somewhat lessen the urgency when they pretty much shrug and go “Oh, OK”…

Following on from that, I got the aforementioned eye-test, which was also positive.  Small changes, but nothing major, and the optician said that my eyes are a lot healthier than those of most people who have similar levels of vision correction to me.

Oh, she also worried me by telling me that people with my level of vision correction are at risk of detached retinas – something that has never been said to me before! – but that mine were OK.  (I mentioned this to my parents last weekend, and they added to it by saying ‘Yeah, there’s a family history of doing that, too”)  So that’s been great, being told all of a sudden about a potential future health issue I wasn’t even aware of.  Joys.

Anyway, all told I’m actually doing OK.  Now if I could just get my brain to follow the same path, things would be wunderbar

Aging

One of the reasons (I think) for the current phase of my feeling somewhat flattened is relating to me feeling a bit old currently.

That’s not as in “Oh my God, I’m old” and so on, it’s more just some realisations that I’m no longer the age I am in my self-image. Mentally – and many would say emotionally – I’m nowhere near 46.  But this year so far I’ve been feeling older – the fun stuff like new aches, just generally feeling rougher than I have previously.  It’s all just a bit wearing, no fun at all, and quite demoralising.

Alongside that, over the first three months I put on some weight, which wouldn’t then easily shift in the usual ways I use. Also quite demoralising.

The final bit of the jigsaw was getting an eye test a couple of weeks back. While the prescription hasn’t changed much, it’s changed enough, and we’re looking at my next set of glasses being varifocals.  So yeah, I’m feeling a bit old at the moment.

I’m working on it – and that’ll be a follow-up post to this one – but at least I am working on it, and so far that feeling of being flattened is at least lessening as a result.

Sugar Tax

On Friday, the UK introduced a “Sugar Tax” on sweet drinks, purportedly to help reduce childhood obesity. Will it work? Personally, I doubt it.

There’s a few reasons – first and foremost, that a lot of manufacturers have already chosen to reduce the sugar levels in their drinks to put them into lower rates for the sugar tax.

Connected to that, diet and zero-calorie versions of most of those drinks have been available for years. If people haven’t chosen to swap by now, will paying 10p extra make them change? Probably not.  There’s not even a really visible price difference – at least two of the shop chains I use regularly have upped the price on all the drinks, not just the sugary ones, which also defeats the object.  If there were a visible difference ( “I can buy 500ml of the sugary one for £1.50, or the diet one for £1.35, so I’ll save money”) then it might work, but without that, I don’t see that there’s a real driver to force the change.

Alongside that, I *personally* have a problem with government telling me how to be healthy, and attempting to enforce that. I have the same issue when it comes to smoking, the way government encourages people to stop smoking, while also getting massive amounts of income from the tax and duty on cigarettes. (This also applies for alcohol, telling people to drink less while getting the income from the tax and duty, and so on and so on)

I also suspect that there’s a lot more damage done by the ‘invisibly’ sweet drinks – the bizarre creamy milky super-sweet concoctions from Starbucks, Caffe Nero, Costa et al – which now seem to be far more prevalent than sweet fizzy drinks.   I suspect there’s a lot more of the obesity blame that can be laid on the coffee culture now than can be laid at the soft-drinks industry.  I’m not even sure that the coffee chains are being hit by the sugar tax – I haven’t seen any mention of it being on anything except the soft-drinks industry.

It’ll be interesting to see the results – although of course the government will always claim it to have been a massive success, even when it’s a clusterfuck of monumental proportions – but I really don’t expect to see it have any positive effects on reducing obesity, whether in children or adults.

Flattened

Yet again, things round here have eased off a bit, I haven’t been updating as regularly as I could/should be doing.  In fairness, that’s not just something that’s been happening here, it’s also been breaking through into other aspects of life, and I’m working my way through the whole thing.

I’ve been describing it to myself as being permanently tired, although as per the title, “Flattened” is perhaps a better description.  So, probably, is “Depressed, but Functional”  They’d all be fair, for sure.

Thing is, I don’t feel depressed. I just feel tired.  I still get up, go to work, do all the idiot stuff I do on weekends. But in many ways it feels like I’m doing a lot of it on autopilot – because I’m tired.

It’s meant I haven’t done some stuff, and some new things (or revisited things) just haven’t happened yet, because I’m too tired, too flat to make the effort.

I don’t know quite what to make of it. I’m figuring it out, and I think (hope) I’ve turned a bit of a corner over the weekend, so in some ways it’s a case of waiting to see what develops.  I know that in some ways I’ve done more new stuff this week already than I probably did in the previous three months.

I’m not going to force the issue – as I said previously, Q2 of 2018 also involves more downtime, which I’m hoping will free up some mental bandwidth, and allow me to start doing some of the stuff that’s currently sitting in my brain saying “Well? Get on with it”.

That’s how it feels at the moment, anyway. Whether the same will be true tomorrow morning, or next week, next month – only time will tell. We’ll see.

A Tale of Two Macbeths

As I said earlier in the week, over the last two weekends I’ve ended up seeing two versions of Macbeth, one at the RSC in Stratford-on-Avon starring Christopher Eccleston, and one at the National Theatre in London, with Rory Kinnear and Anne-Marie Duff .

It’s a weird piece of scheduling – for whatever reason, I’d have expected the two main theatre companies to at least communicate a bit, in order for this kind of clash to not happen. However, everyone else I’ve said that to has said “No, they don’t talk”, but all the same it seems pretty odd to me – not least because as well as those two, there’s also the Verdi operatic version also being performed at the same time at the Royal Opera House !

Anyway, for my purposes, it made it interesting to be able to compare the two performances in such proximity.

For me, the RSC version was the one I preferred, although both had flaws.  In the RSCs version, parts of the stage set weren’t visible from our seats – seats that hadn’t been marked as ‘restricted view’ – which was annoying.  It’s a modern-dress setup, which is fine with me, but sticks with a more traditional timescale all the same. The witches were played by a trio of young (9-10 years old) who all spoke in sync, and were extremely good at being creepy. The porter in this one was very good, quite creepy, always on stage, and marking off all the deaths in chalk on the wall.  I hadn’t noticed that initially, but it was very effectively done in later scenes where news of Macbeth’s rule, and the deaths involved – seeing them all getting marked on the walls was a very effective way of putting the point across. We weren’t just seeing the on-stage deaths, this despot was killing all and sundry, feeling invincible while doing it.

We were very early in the run, so there were some hitches with lines not being perfect – but I am seeing it again with different friends later in the run, so it’ll be interesting to see what’s changed – but all told I thought it was a pretty good performance, and really good to see Christopher Ecclestone doing his thing.

The NT version was much more modern, supposedly staged ‘after a revolution’, on a blackened stage. It is very dark in general, but also emphatically trying too hard (in my opinion, of course!) and in particular I felt the witches were less effective as a result. Rory Kinnear was good as Macbeth, as was Anne-Marie Duff as Lady Macbeth, but most of the rest of the cast faded in the memory very quickly.   There’s one particular scene with the witches that is very effectively creepy, but the rest is just… meh.  I wasn’t overly taken with the production – and it manages to miss the ‘double double toil and trouble’ speech completely – but I’m still glad I went to see it, and to compare two quite different interpretations of the same play.

Post Navigation