D4D

You can't polish a turd.

Archive for the category “Thoughts”

Small Wins

As part of the “generally busy” of the last few weeks, I was asked to attend a funeral/cremation for the father of a friend of mine.  As the dresscode was described as “formal” I opted for my much-loved three-piece suit that I got made in Cambridge. Turns out, that suit is exactly 12 years old (I took delivery of it at the start of April 2007)

Anyway, when I tried it on, I was really pleased to find that it still fits just fine – the most I had to do was brush the dust off it, as I haven’t worn it that much in the last few years.

So basically, I’m taking it as a small win that actually I haven’t changed size/weight/dimensions over that 12 year period.  I know I’m still overweight and blah blah blah, but it’s been utterly consistent for over a decade, which I’m pretty happy with.  I know there have been fluctuations over that time, but this current state certainly appears to be my default.

And I’m OK with that.

Slump

Things have been quiet on D4D of late. Basically, I’m in a bit of a slump, and at the moment I’m not quite sure how to get out of it.

There’s a lot of reasons behind it, but mainly it’s down to an overbearing feeling of stagnation, or being a bit bogged down. I’m used to having change in my life, and at the moment it’s not really there. Some of that is inertia, some of it is still the final stages from the bankruptcy process and some of it is the current state of things. But it all adds up to an overall sludge – and while I know I want things to change, I also don’t quite know what I want to do next, or where I want to be.

Domestically, I’ve been in this house for seven years. That’s by far the longest I’ve been in any one place since I left the family home. I was looking at moving last year when the tenancy came up, but that was only just after the bankruptcy finished, and I didn’t want to push things while it was still showing up on credit checks and the like.  So I’m thinking about it for this year – but there’s also nowhere that’s dragging me, nowhere that I’ve been and thought “OK, this is where I want/need to be”, and it’s all a bit up in the air. There’s still time, though.

Workwise, I’ve been working on the same project for more than three years. (Probably closer to 4, all told)  And while we’ve got a lot done, there still feels like no end in sight (things keep on being added in to it, or stuff is more complex than initially expected) which doesn’t help. I like contracting in general for exactly this – that each contract is finite – even though they can (and usually do) get extended, they still have an end date where I can say “Nope, I’m done”. This one is open-ended, and it’s feeling more and more like a proper job and blah blah.

Outside of those two things, there’s so much doubt about what’s going on in the UK – with Brexit being delayed even further, it’s left everything in limbo again, of not knowing what’ll happen with it, and what’ll happen with jobs, economy and so on if and when it happens. I can’t deny, that all contributes to the current sense of stagnation.

I’m not depressed – well, no more than usual – and I’m still getting out and getting other stuff done. It’s just that I’ve not got the time or energy for anything extra. I wish I did, but I don’t.

I’m going to keep on working on it, though.  I know I need a couple of new projects to be getting on with – but I also need to find the motivation to get it going. That’s where the stagnation is really hurting – I know I need and want to change, but right now the drive to change things is also being blocked.

I’ll figure it out, I know – I always do, and always have done.  And hopefully it won’t take too much longer to turn the corner.

Incompetents (Part Two)

Following on from the other post about people (or at least politicians) not thinking things through, the other one is/was about the EU’s new plan for all new cars to be fitted with speed limiters from 2022.

Speed limiters are – in some circumstances – a really good idea.  If the limiting was in place for areas with lower speed limits – the areas with speed limits of 20,30, 40, and perhaps even 50mph – then that would be good. I see so many people speeding in those areas.  I still think it’d have its problems, but this would at least help.  (I’ve said before that I have my reservations on this in the 50mph average speed limit areas currently in place on a lot of motorway work areas)

If, however, it’s something that is brought in universally, for all roads at all limits, then it’s idiotic – and again, shows a lack of understanding when it comes to people, business, cars, driving, and umpteen other things.

The first thing that occurred to me when I heard this was that a goodly portion of police (or council) funding is generated or paid for via speeding fines and the like. If speeding is hugely reduced by automation and limiters, where will that money and funding  be coming from?

For another thing, if everything is limited to the national speed limit, it’ll reduce people’s desire/drive to pay more for larger/faster vehicles. If you can get a basic [car model]  that’ll do everything and can go up to the speed limit where it’s limited, why would you pay two or three times the price for a performance version of the same [car model] that can’t do anything extra, that can’t go faster or perform better?   (Personally I don’t see much point in these super-performance models anyway, but that’s not the point here)

Again, I like the idea of auto-limiting speeds/cars in slower and busier areas. But making it a universal solution seems to have missed a fair number of knock-on issues, with no clues or hints about how to actually fix them.

Incompetents (Part One)

There’ve been a couple of times in the last week where I’ve been surprised by how little some people understand things – which is kind of surprising, considering what low expectations I have of people in general.

The first of these surprises was with Tom Watson (MP) blithering on about how McDonalds should cancel their Monopoly promotion this year.  In and of itself, it’s not a bad idea – I’m no fan of McDonalds, and their Monopoly thing definitely encourages people to buy/eat more than they usually would.

However, Watson’s announcement was made the day before the promotion launched. By that time all the necessary materials have been prepared, printed, distributed, all the ads have been made and booked, and it would be almost impossible to cancel the promotion.   And there seemed to be no real understanding of that.

If the press release had been a couple of weeks later, and was aimed at getting McDonalds to stop using it after the current promotion then that would’ve made more sense. (Not a lot more sense admittedly, since even a rudimentary Wikipedia search will tell you it’s been an annual promotion since 1987, but there’s always a chance that they might do something else, if a new idea could come up that would work equally well as a promotional tool)

All told, it just showed (in my opinion) that it was all just a “This is bad, OK?” press-release, with no real thought or understanding of the business (and marketing) processes underneath it.

 

The Joy of Tech

Yesterday, while doing a quick shop on the way to work, I suddenly realised I’d left my wallet at home. Bugger.

I was just about prepared to take everything back to its shelves/locations, when it occurred to me that actually I was still OK – I had my phone with me still. That meant I’d got the ability to make a contactless payment – and because I’d also added the details of my Monzo card/account to the phone, it meant I had everything I needed.

It’s pretty amazing, the way these things have now become so much more mainstream than they were ten years ago, or even five.  Since I got the Monzo card eighteen months ago (it’s the only one I have that also connects into my ApplePay account on the phone) I’ve stopped carrying cash except for specific occasions – for example, the car wash I use still only takes cash.

I still prefer to carry physical cards (hence usually having a wallet) but it was still interesting to realise that forgetting it is no longer the “Oh shit!” moment it used to be. (So long as I remember my phone, and that I can use it, anyway)

Ain’t progress grand?

Dick Comparison

So far this year, I’ve been to London to see two versions of Shakespeare’s “Richard II” – first at the Almeida Theatre, and then last weekend at the Sam Wanamaker theatre at the Globe.  (I’m also seeing Richard III later in the year, as well as the Globe’s three-plays-in-a-day marathon slog of Henry IV Part One, Henry IV Part Two, and Henry V – by the end of that, I may be somewhat kinged out!)

The Almeida’s production was a modern interpretation, and much-abridged – it had a run time of 1hr 40mins, which was pretty much the same as the first half at the Globe. By comparison, the Globe’s was more traditional in how it was staged and performed, but with a cast entirely of Women of Colour (WOC).

It’s been interesting to compare the two, so I thought I’d write a bit about it here.  Obviously all views are my own, and all that jazz.  It’s also worth pointing out that I had done my usual thing of going in with no real idea of the story, chronology or characters, which sometimes doesn’t help.

The Almeida

I found the Almeida’s production to be far harder to follow – and primarily that was because of how it was being staged.  The entire stage was made into a steel box, with no active exits (there had to be some, for getting on/off the stage at least, but they weren’t used during the actual production) which meant there could be no cleanups, no costume changes, and no scenery changes.  That meant it was hard to actually keep track of who was who – and even more so with a reduced cast.  As an example, one actor’s first character died off fairly early on, and they then played a different character (and possibly two) but still wearing the blood and costume of the first role – which meant it was pretty hard to follow.  Honestly, I’d almost rather have just had the actors wearing placards with names on, in order to explain who they were at any one time.

Additionally, the abridging of the text – and the speed with which it was performed – made it even more confusing, with seemingly more focus on people chucking gloves at each other than the actual plot and actions.

So all told, I didn’t like the production that much – I felt there was too much that got rushed, or that made no sense at all. It was interesting in many ways, but also fairly high on the infamous “Load of old bollocks” scale.

The Wanamaker / Globe version

The production at the Wanamaker was (for me) far preferable.  I’ve found I have very few issues with changing roles/stereotypes and doing things differently – particulary with Shakespeare, the story seems to take precedence over who’s doing what, so it doesn’t matter (to me) whether Richard is played by an older white man, or a coloured woman. I know it annoys purists and so on, but I truly don’t feel it matters.

I’d not been to the Wanamaker theatre before, but really liked it – the entire thing is lit by candles (with the exception of the windows ‘out’, which are lit changeably with LEDs, although it’s not intrusive) which makes for an interesting semi-authentic feel.  (It also means that there’s a person in the cast/creatives list whose title is “Candle Consultant”, which is pretty special)

The production itself made a lot more sense to me – the cast size is similar (I think there’s one more cast member in the Wanamaker version) but because they’re allowed off-stage to change costumes for the different roles, it was far easier to follow who’s who and so on.  Additionally, the extra run-time meant that it didn’t feel rushed, which also helped.

I’m glad I went to see both productions – but in this case I far preferred the more traditional version at the Wanamaker to the modern/short version at the Almeida.

 

Night Mode

One of my favourite things on the Saab was a thing called “Night Panel“.  It was a simple button, but turned off all the instrument illumination except for the speedometer.  Even the speedometer range was reduced – I think it just illuminated 0-80mph, although it activated the full dial if you went past 80. All the other dials went to black, and the needles to zero. (Which was weird to see in daylight, but made sense at night, because if it’s not lit, why would you need the needles to be indicating anything?)  If anything goes wrong, the night mode is cancelled, and everything revives to display the problem – low fuel, high temperature, warning lights, whatever.

That sounds pretty basic, and not a lot of use – which was kind of true. But it was great if you were doing a long drive at night, and I found that it significantly reduced eye strain and so on.  Originally it was just a gimmicky thing, but I found I used it more than I expected to.

Until recently, I’d only seen it on the Saab, and couldn’t understand why other manufacturers don’t have the same thing.  (I feel the same about the little plastic clip at the side of the windscreen that could be used to hold parking tickets and so on)

This week, though, I’ve had to use two different Hyundai cars, and they’ve both had little Night Mode buttons. Not as comprehensive as the Saab one, it still turns off the majority of the in-car dashboard illumination, and makes for a nicer night-time driving environment.

And again, I wonder why other manufacturers (or at least those whose cars I’ve driven) don’t do similar things.

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