Posted in Blogging, Life and Family, Observations, Technology and Software, TV and Films, Weekend Coffee Share

Coffee in April

If we were having coffee, I would apologize for not being around so much recently. Being polite, you would ask what I’ve been up to, and I would say well, nothing much. However, on a flip-through of my journal for the month of April, the following is revealed:


I was sorting books (yet again) and found:

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened‘ (Jenny Lawson)

“…she learns that life’s most absurd and humiliating moments, the ones we wish we could pretend had never happened, are the very same moments that make us who we are.”

Jenny Lawson is a blogger.

I often get cold feet about my own blog. I do value it, so could try again with a simple coffee post.


I want to keep the large padded footstool if possible, and had the sudden impulse to stick a blue Post-It note on it. That reminded me of Frasier telling his father and brother to put labels on the things they most wanted to inherit. The father thought it was a bad idea, and refused, but Niles had great fun sticking labels everywhere.


Looking around the internet, I find a lot of people fall asleep during Blade Runner. I was no exception. When I woke I was very confused… I thought it was morning, and wondered if Mum had got up yet. I couldn’t remember seeing her today at all, or anything else that might have happened. Slowly it came back to me that she had indeed got up, and had done things like set the robohoover to work.


I’m disoriented these days. It’s intensified because small plans are mooted, then suddenly change and I’m not informed, and I find myself working towards something that’s not going to happen, or isn’t going to happen the way I think, which changes everything…. It’s funny how people leave you out of the loop, then look at you as though you’re the bat with crazy ideas.


Mum’s just got up from her nap and is drinking caffeine-free instant coffee. She hasn’t drunk instant for years, so that took me by surprise. I didn’t even realize it was caffeine-free… I just thought it was good thinking on her part to buy a replacement when I was about to run out. I ran out today… so (feeling somewhat cheated) I said “we need more.”

I now have a silver tin, while Mum has the gold. Why does ‘caff free’ get to be gold??


Part-way through watching the Artificial Intelligence AI DVD on Mum’s TV while she was napping, which I’m not encouraged to do, I got tired minutes before she reappeared. I turned it off and left the TV on, so all she saw was snooker, which she’s still watching.


I love the teddy in AI… that’s why I bought it. The part of the story that’s painful is how the robo-boy has been imprinted on one human (his ‘mother’) and that’s an irreversible process, even though he’s likely to live a lot longer. If returned to Cybertronics after imprinting, they would have to destroy him. Rather than do that, they abandoned him in a wood with Teddy, and told him for his own safety not to go to Cybertronics or any large group of people.

But was that kind?

At the end of the film, it was easier for the boy to lose her forever while knowing he was loved, than to lose her heart and her mind… even knowing she was still alive somewhere. I didn’t understand that when I saw it before, but think now that I do.


Part of the problem with people now is that they expect perfection. All you need to do is check out one of those B&B TV reality shows… they knock marks off if there’s no TV or they have to share a bathroom, and they complain about dustbin men at 6 a.m.

Then there’s the perennial “there was a small spider in the corner.”

It makes you wonder.


I need to be consistent in myself, and that means doing what comes naturally to me. Saying what seems right to me. I’m confused enough without there being added confusion… an alien dynamic.

I run into fears I might overdo emails. After all, people are busy. Or they do all their communicating on diddly little iPod Shuffles. So I delay my responses, cut down a lot, and do so much self-editing that the authentic me isn’t coming though.


From my horoscope for April 25:

“Nearly everyone seems on edge today…. Unfortunately, you could inadvertently kick a hornet’s nest if you are careless with your words. Author Pearl Cleage wrote, “Discomfort is always a necessary part of the process of enlightenment.””

Overnight I had a Eureka moment that I’ve since forgotten. I don’t know if it was real or dreamed…


I hoovered downstairs (and the stairs themselves) and polished the tables, and felt tired the whole time, as though doing it was little short of a nightmare! I hope that book about the art of Japanese tidying is right when it says that when you finally get your possessions down to a more manageable level and tidy them away into their designated spaces, keeping the whole house clean will be easier and more fun.

“Those items that bring you the most joy, such as your divorce certificate, should be kept in your power spot. Every house will have its own power spot. To find yours, close your eyes and joyously chant: “Where’s my power spot?” If the answer does not come to you then you aren’t chanting joyously enough.”

A little while ago my iMac failed… or rather, one small component in it failed, which means the whole 27″ 30.5 lb weight of it (and some of the software on it) is scrap. I used to paint in that corner; create and maintain databases, organize my photo collection, back up my iPad, listen to music…

I haven’t been there since the iMac failed, and have felt confused and disgruntled ever since. I got a new computer but haven’t turned it on. I don’t know if it will run the software I’m used to running, and the thought of installing it all over again makes me not want to go through the process at all. However, without that resource, I don’t feel ‘me’ any more.

It’s time I addressed that, and brought my ‘power spot’ back into play. Today.


The hill out the back gets manure put on it annually. You go out into the garden and it’s suddenly reeking. I have thought a few times the cats were overdoing it…


A while ago when I suggested buying Sharpe books on Kindle for her birthday, Mum said no, she can’t concentrate enough on reading.

More recently, I took a pile of books downstairs to go to charity, and some time later thought “that’s funny, the pile looks smaller!” I peeked in Mum’s room, and she’d taken a book (The Vital Spark) and put it in her book rack.

That made me happy. 🙂

She’s also finished a slim library book by Ann Cleeves and bought herself a Kindle book.

It all makes me happy and I feel calmer. Also, today it was sunny. Rather cold, but the sun was gold on the trees and blossoms… just lovely.

I’ll miss it here.

Posted in Hearing Loss, Observations, TV and Films

Garden Puzzle

A few days ago we caught part of the Chelsea Flower Show on TV. I grumbled to Mum that TV subtitles have a habit of putting the wrong word, then are interrupted by a correction even when the mistake was easy to guess. You wish it would just get on with it, as it seems slow enough already.

I spoke too soon! During an interview with Stephanie Cole, she said (according to the subtitles), “my garden is quite of Excise.” I’m still trying to work out what that meant!

Posted in Life and Family, TV and Films

Brother Spider

There was a spider running across the floor in the gathering dark. I was aware of it before I looked down to see it run in a shambling way under the TV stand. In a vague way I had thought of it as being one of the cats, which is why I didn’t look sooner. Nobody else saw it, and I didn’t say anything. Live and let live.

We were watching a Brother Bear DVD… neither of us had seen it before. Mum said it she thought it was going to be like Yogi Bear, but I had a foreboding feeling it was something darker. I said “I hope it’s not going to be sad… a sort of beary Bambi!” Which is exactly what it was.

Part of the way through, I said “several of the story lines seem very familiar”, and Mum said ‘yes’. She turned and scowled at me when the bear prepared to run across dangerous ground with lots of erupting steam vents.

I said to myself “this is not how the story goes”… I changed it in my mind before it was even finished. Life is sad enough without sad films.


“The little bear was strangely unattractive,” I said.
“I didn’t like either of the bears.”
“I could see bits of Mulan in it as well.”

Next time we’ll probably watch The Jungle Book (an old favourite) and then I’ll get her to agree to The Emperor’s New Groove. I’ve seen it and she hasn’t… and I think she would like it. Also, I don’t think Mulan is in it anywhere. Perhaps I just didn’t notice!


Wrote just now in an email to someone:

Do you ever lose interest in your activities? When I’m really aiming for something, I seem to get interested in what I’m doing, but then… recently I don’t seem to have much heart for anything. I haven’t written in my private journal since voting (though it’s nothing to do with politics!) I can get up a wicked interest in news such as the Icelandic Ash Cloud stopping European airports in their tracks, and I’ll go and read to see what people are saying, and get excited when people want me to get involved in their projects, but then…

I think of things I want to talk about (on blog or email) and never say them. The moment passes. I’m reading a P.G. Wodehouse novel; I’ve always loved his books but even so, I pick the book up and then put it down. In the end it just seems easier to roll over and go to sleep.

I’m trying a new ‘keep fit’ game but felt thoroughly irritated by it from the outset… it’s just me, perhaps… not naturally being a sporty go-getting type! It doesn’t seem to irritate anybody else (according to their reviews… except in one instance!) I suppose if we take the time to review something, we usually really like it. But it has good points, so I’ll stick with it. It seems that when we learn our way around it, we can screen out the bits we don’t like and stick with the bits we do! More on that later (in a blog post).

Feel tired. Maybe there’s a link. But which came first — the chicken or the egg?

Posted in Computer Graphics, TV and Films

The Fog, the Fog!

When I’m working in the Bryce 3D image application, I sound like Hammy the Squirrel from Over the Hedge. After lots of puzzling over something I don’t understand, such as a strange transparent boundary that’s ruining my object mask, the penny suddenly drops…

“It was the vapour! OHHHHHHH!”

Shortly afterwards: “what’s that radial light doing in the clouds?? I thought it was down in that dark bit. I wondered why it was still dark there…”

Total 3D scatterbrain. I just want to speed-speed-speed up and down the 3D hedge, but the Bryce renders don’t keep up with my ideas. Sigh.

Mum, after days of watching me poring intently over the rock texture of a recalcitrant volcano, said she’ll soon be calling me Slartibartfast. You wouldn’t want me as a real-world Slartibartfast, but I would love a nice big Slartibartfast desktop picture, preferably of Bill Nighy. Only I don’t have time, so I hope someone else makes one. 🙂

“That was one of mine. Won an award, you know. Lovely crinkly edges.”

I wish.

PS: the above picture was the render zapped by the Windows update. Or should I say, its successor… It took 12 hours 16 minutes, so I was spot on about the time. I’ve been tearing my hair out because it looks bright and clear on the new Mac, and murky and horrid on the old one! I bet all of Slartibartfast’s computers are perfectly calibrated.

Posted in Art, Hearing Loss, Notepad Conversations, TV and Films

Waiting for Deep Conversation

We often shuttle handwritten notes back and forth when the TV is blaring or I don’t have my hearing aids on. But it can be disappointing at times! After a bit of silence, Mum will reach for the nearest notepad and start writing, and I sit in anticipation, wondering what it’s going to be. For instance, we cut in on a bit of TV about the landscapes of Constable (the views he used can still be found). So, what was it that came to Mum’s mind? Did she have something to say about art? Perhaps she had a view on the way Constable painted trees?

When the note finally came across to me, it said:

“When R. and I went to Suffolk we went on a trip to see Flatford Mill but the bus driver got lost so we never got there.”


Posted in TV and Films

Sky Limits

This news item is out: Sky told to cut wholesale prices by regulator Ofcom.

We had already decided to cancel our subscription to Sky Movies. There isn’t the choice we expected, and there are many repeats. My mother has been feeling angry about the monthly subscription, as she feels she is not getting good value.

I saw Disney’s Aladdin for the first time recently, enjoyed it, and wondered why I hadn’t seen it before. It just never seemed to show up on a TV channel that I was watching… and I only saw this one because it was recently on the Disney Cinemagic channel (subscription only). Aladdin‘s quite an old film, isn’t it? 1992.

I don’t suppose that cancelling Sky Movies will increase the number of movies we get to watch, but we don’t feel we get much choice even with it. It’s worse for those who can only watch the subtitled films. The TV guide has larger areas of dark blue (non-subtitled) than white (subtitled). It rattled me when I took a closer look at the dark blue areas (which I normally skip over) and identified a number of films and shows that I would be happy to watch. The Sci-Fi Channel is an example. I love Babylon 5, but it wasn’t subtitled. Very little is…

I had to go online to cancel our movie subscription, but (as I feared) we can add whatever we want with ease, but can’t remove anything. There was a phone number that could be called, but no email address. Finally went to the ‘Contact Us’ in tiny print at the foot of the page, and was able to fill in a form asking for the cancellation.

It doesn’t make sense to me that businesses do such things. Do they honestly believe that we will just give up and go away? The only result is to waste our time, and ensure that customers are thoroughly annoyed by the time they get in touch with a human being!

Got a reply saying that they are swamped with emails just now; we just have to be patient. Wonder what those emails are all about…?

Posted in Hearing Loss, My Cats, TV and Films

Something Thick This Way Comes

Today I was horrified to come home and find that my cat Samson had left muddy pawprints all round the toilet seat and down into the bowl… where he’s probably been drinking. I thought he had grown out of that by now, especially with his lovely cat fountain downstairs!

I warned Mum, and tonight there was a graphic toilet cleaner commercial. “We should make Samson watch this,” I said. The commercial was subtitled, and it zoomed in on a couple of germs inside the toilet bowl. One germ said “hey look, something incredibly thick is approaching!”

“In our house it wouldn’t be the bleach he was referring to,” I said, glaring at Samson.

Mum laughed and said “that germ was Tony Robinson.”
I opened and shut my mouth a few times, then said, “oh, you could recognize the voices?” (This skill in others always takes me by surprise!) Then I began to understand something about the expression he used. “Was he being Baldrick from Blackadder? That whole thing was a kind of Blackadder scene? Who was the other germ?”

Another thing that takes me by surprise is when people praise actors for their roles in animated films… I think “who? Eddie Murphy was in Shrek? But Donkey is Donkey!” So much washes over my head. 🙂

Posted in Hearing Loss, TV and Films

Subtitle Grumble

Answered the Soulless TV comments (see my last blog post).

I don’t like snooker but Mum tends to have it on TV. Was idly watching the subtitles… one of the  players was looking very tense, and the commentators said:

“He has a tendency to torture himself.”

“Yes, he puts himself through the Windmill.”

I said to Mum “did they really say that, or was it just the subtitler falling asleep?”

“What? I don’t know, I wasn’t paying attention.”

After that, every time I saw that same player with his tightly knitted brow, I couldn’t help thinking “there he goes, putting himself through the Windmill again!”

We are trying to watch The Darling Buds of May for old times’ sake, and I say ‘trying’ because every other time we try to watch it, the subtitles are off by a big way. It’d be like this:

Charlie: “Oh what a lovely day!” (Nothing appears on the subtitles).

Mariette: “I thought we could just bask out here in the sun.” (Subtitles: “Perfick!”)

Charlie: “Actually I was wondering if we could…” (Subtitles: “What’s so funny, Ma?”)

Mariette: “Oh Charlie! I just want to lie here in the sun.” (Subtitles: “Nothing, I was just…”)

Eventually you catch up with the bit that’s already been subtitled, but it’s annoying watching. I mean, you expect there might be glitches once in a while, but not every other episode. Then there are loads of commercials that go on for ages, and I seem to remember reading that this channel (or some channel) said they find it hard to get the subtitles spot on because of the ads. Varying length, perhaps.

Mum thinks I should write and complain, but you would think they would already know that there is a problem, and it has to be sorted out. Why do we have to complain about something that should be obvious? Hmm.

Edit: The channel says they rely on the commercials for their funds, and have to edit programmes in order to fit the ads in. That’s possibly why the subtitles go bad.

Posted in Agoraphobia, Hearing Loss, TV and Films

Lost Tuesday

On Tuesday I shuffled furniture around, washed cat pee off plastic storage boxes, muttered crossly. Then got tired and watched Monk, followed by Charades (Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn). Wasn’t thrilled by either. Monk was about a deaf lipreader who was the villain (having stumbled across certain secrets by lipreading through a window). Even while understanding that a good story is a good story, you get tired of certain stereotypes!

Monk and his friends have a horrible habit of giving their suspicions away to the bad guys. They never steal a march for long, having loud conversations while the bad guy is a few paces away, and I always feel like giving them a notepad and pen and telling them to write it all down. It’s more discreet.

We also watched Lost Land of the Volcano. I was reluctant, as for some reason I’m not fond of wildlife documentaries — and I’m particularly not fond of documentaries of film crews bravely battling against nature and the elements in order to make these documentaries. I’m sure if I was there, I’d be exclaiming all the time “it’s so wet, muddy, dark and full of strange night noises!”… but you can’t engage with others saying the same when you’re sitting on your comfortable chair waiting for the footage of woolly rats.

Anyway, Mum says we’re not going to York next time we go on holiday — we’re going to the Lost Land of the Volcano to cuddle those rats for ourselves. Knowing my luck, I’d see too many of those big black spiders along the way, baring their dripping fangs in my direction. One wouldn’t need special lipreading skills to understand that.

Felt very good today… no agoraphobia in the streets. I was a little nervous in the Argos queue, though, and when the girl checked with me what I was buying (one Seagate hard drive and a pack of blank DVDs) I couldn’t hear her. She could have been saying “our biggest wardobe and some aftershave” for all I knew.

If I ruled the world, you know what I would do… make communication more visual. 🙂

Posted in Life and Family, TV and Films

Changing Lanes: Personal Risk

Watched Changing Lanes on DVD; this time with Mum. It was frightening how nervous I felt… I even considered ‘pulling the plug’ by saying “gah, let’s not watch this tonight!”

It’s not as if it’s a film that particularly means anything to me. I admired it and was relieved it ended well despite the rapid pace of disasters, but I remember how difficult it was to watch the first time.

It can be difficult to please Mum where films are concerned. She likes very light and funny things (The Ice Age and The Wind in the Willows); whodunnits (Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot); non-Hardy period drama if tastefully done (Larkrise to Candleford and Cranford); things we have read (Hornblower and Sharpe).

She’s less keen on anything ‘horrible’, ‘dreary’ or ‘boring’, though one day she put Die Hard II on and laughed at much of it! I’m inclined to think she is wary of anything she doesn’t normally watch, and would like some films better than she thinks she will. I had that kind of fear about Robocop, Terminator and Alien but finally watched and grew to respect them. There are still things I refuse to watch (Omen and Final Destination), but as I started watching both of them, I know for sure they’re not my cup of tea!

Tonight I suggested we watch a DVD, just for a change, and showed her our DVD collection (in about 5 boxes). Things like Johnny English, Robin Hood (Prince of Thieves), Legend, iRobot, Artificial Intellligence (AI), Emma, When Harry Met Sally, The Postman, Waterworld, The Hogfather… and she picked out something we have watched about three times very recently (National Treasure 2), saying “all the rest are boring.”

Since the whole point of watching a DVD tonight was because I was tired of sitting through repeats of repeats, I baulked. “You watch repeats of Who Wants to be a Millionaire? every night then call these boring? And we watched that one quite recently.”
She looked puzzled. “Did we?”
“Oh. Well, you pick one, then.”

Instead I found another box of DVDs. “That one in there, Changing Lanes, is quite good. I bought it recently.”
“Play that one.”

So we settled down to watch it, and my stomach was full of butterflies. What if she didn’t like it? It might be more violent or upsetting than I remember, and then I’d feel terrible for making us both watch it, especially as I had refused to accept her own choice. And though I find stuff hard to watch at times, I find them even harder to watch in company. Perhaps we should have gone with National Treasure 2 after all.

When I watch a film nobody else likes, I worry that it give away flaws in my character… “how could Diddums enjoy that?! It’s all explosions, aliens, bad jokes and drug dealers!”

I remember I wanted to watch a history thing when we were on holiday; I hoped it would be interesting and dramatic, but instead it was rather mean and horrible, and it got worse and worse… finally the others snapped at me and glared, as though to say “how could you want to watch this??” I felt betrayed by whoever made the thing! I didn’t like it either, but felt as though the producers had shown up my lack of judgement.

Wouldn’t it be safer to watch the films everybody else likes, and not suggest anything myself? But tonight it was too late; I’d tipped my hand.

Changing Lanes began, and the various characters were droning away about their own downbeat affairs, and all I could think was “this is boring. Do you think Mum is bored? Will they go on like that for the rest of the film? I don’t think they do, but what if I’ve forgotten how dull and gloomy it really is?”

I got so twitchy that I nearly said “this is depressing, don’t you think? Maybe we should just watch the other DVD.” But the film had only been running for two minutes! I asked myself how I would feel about the film if I was watching it on my own again… that was easy. I’d just settle down and watch it… quite happy. Give it time.

Mum seemed interested; even smiled when the two main characters ran into each other. I knew for sure she was enjoying it when she went out of the room and asked me to pause the DVD so that she wouldn’t miss any of it. (We were at the bit where the lawyer was having a heart to heart with his wife). We had a quick break and got something hot to drink, then finished watching it… it was good.

Great… but I’m going to have to stop hanging my own self-belief on whether or not other people like what I like… that’s daft! I know we couldn’t possibly like all the same things — and whether or not we do, it’s only because we see different things in the films. One person might see violence; another would see interesting characters or a vein of humour.

When we had finished Changing Lanes, we went back to Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, looked at each other scornfully, and said “that’s ridiculous, how can people not know that?” Secure (once again) in each other’s regard.