Month: February 2020 (page 1 of 3)

Getting one’s affairs in order

Last year, whilst the current Mrs Masher and I were out walking the mutt one day, Mrs M suddenly said – apropos of nothing – “We must get our wills updated.”

I agreed. We had made a will together shortly after we got married and so much has changed since then – (kids mainly, but other stuff too) – that I realised our will would be woefully out of date and was no longer what we wanted.

We agreed to sort it out… but haven’t yet done so.

“Also”, she said, “if you suddenly snuff it, I’ve got no idea about your bank accounts. You need to write the details down, so I’ll know.”

Again, this is true: we both keep separate bank accounts (always have done). It works for us.  But, I have half a dozen different accounts that I use for paying bills and for savings and things.  If I were to drop dead tomorrow, she would need immediate access to those accounts, in order to keep the debtors from the door.

I agreed to sort that out too. But, how to do it? I certainly didn’t like the idea of writing everything down – account numbers, passwords, security questions, etc – and putting it in a brown envelope in the filing box, as per Mrs M’s suggestion. Far too risky. What if we got burgled whilst away on holiday?

What you see in the picture above, is the solution I came up with. Inside that red key box, is a memory stick. It contains EVERYTHING. All my accounts, with login details and passwords, but also a written description as to what I use each account for.

There are also written instructions on what to do with all my stuff, if I unexpectedly shuffle off.  I’ve got a lot of gear and have already made some verbal arrangements with friends, but these instructions should help her to dispose of some – or all – of my ‘crap’.

There are also some detailed instructions for the funeral, including the mp3 files of the music I’d like played.

And contact phone numbers of various friends etc that I’d want to be alerted to – what would surely be – the terribly sad news of my demise.

But – I hear you cry – a memory stick! That’s not very secure!

Well, there are three levels of protection here:

  1. It is hidden. Very well hidden. Hidden such, that it wouldn’t be accidentally stumbled upon and only an extensive search would uncover it.
  2. The memory stick is 256AES encrypted and only the multiple character encryption key will unlock it. And you only get six attempts, before it self-erases.   Mrs M only knows part of the key; the other part is with a friend.
  3. The financial files on the stick (giving access to Masher’s millions) are further protected with extra encryption, for which the key is also with a friend – a friend who is under strict instruction to only ever give the key to Mrs M… and even then,  only when I’m gone.

I feel confident that this is secure enough for me to hold such information on.  Plus, it’s dead easy for me to update, as and when I need to.

Now all I need to do, is get round to sorting the will out, then a copy of that can go on there too.

Affairs sorted.

Almost.

Brain dead

This week, I have been in training.

Learning all about hydraulics and fluid dynamics.

This is a page from my workbook.

You can see where I’ve been using the Hazen-Williams Equation to work out friction losses.

Can’t you?

And today, we have been working on the Benoulli Equation to show how the speed of a fluid will increase or decrease inline with a change in it’s potential energy.

Of course,

I haven’t worked on calculations like this, since I was at college, back in the eighties, so it’s fair to say I’m struggling with it a bit. 

And whilst those around me are all using the calculator function on their phones, I have been using my trusty calculator from my college days.  It’s interesting to see that – like me – it’s not as fast at working out these big sums as its more modern counterparts.

I’m happy to admit, that I’m struggling with it all, a bit.   And even when I think I’ve done one easily and sit back smugly, it normally turns out that I have made a stupid mistake somewhere along the line, which has left me with a result that is nowhere near what it should be.

Whilst I was no Carol Vorderman, or Rachel Riley (I’ve got better legs), I was reasonably good at maths, back in the day.

Where did it all go?

Not talking

I looked around me and counted.

There were ten of us… that I could see.

And I was the only one who wasn’t staring intently at my phone.

Six of the ten were wearing earphones of some sort, wired and wireless, listening to music or whatever.

I wasn’t one of them.

No-one was speaking… not even the the young man and woman who were seated next to each other and were quite obviously a couple. They just stared at their phones.

We travelled in complete silence, save for the gentle rumbling of the wheels on the tracks and the automated female voice telling us that the next station would be Maidenhead.

I find it a strange irony, that the mobile telephone has killed the art of conversation.

Crash, Bang, Wallop

A car ran into the back of me, on the M25, whilst driving to work, yesterday morning.

Not as dramatic as it may sound, as we were in almost stationary traffic… as is always the way at that time of the morning between junctions 17 and 16.

It did catch me unawares though (obviously not expecting it to happen), and I believe I have suffered a very minor case of whiplash as a result.

My neck was mildly aching all day and I had a slight headache.

This, despite the impact happening at about walking pace.

There is no damage to my car, whatsoever… it hardly even scuffed the dirt off the back!

And yet, I hurt myself.

Ridiculous.

Chinglish

For something to do, the other day, I built a small function generator.

You know: one of those boxes that can generate a sine, square or saw-tooth waveform at varying frequencies.

You know the ones.

Anyway, it’s nothing fancy: just a kit from ebay.

For a fiver.

Yes, a function generator for five quid! It even comes with a perspex box to put it in!

Obviously, it’s Chinese and so the quality is a bit dubious at that price.

But it works fairly well.

Despite the building instructions:

“After completion of welding on IC, insert the might damage the chip!”

“Check the IC whether against, such as anti please timely correction.”

etc

Google Translate has it’s limitations, I think.

Harmful armful?

I gave my first blood donation in 1981.

Remember it distinctly, as several of my work colleagues were going because it gave them the afternoon off work, effectively.

I’d not given before and was pretty nervous, but a pretty, young, red-headed nurse held my hand throughout.  I went many times after that, but sadly never met Red again.

And then a permanent donor centre set up in the town, making it really easy to attend.

After a while, they asked if I could donate platelets, as opposed to whole blood… something to do with me having a ‘good yield’, or whatever. And so I switched to platelets, allowing me to donate quite frequently.  It wasn’t long before I was on first name terms with most of the staff there.  And I even ended up dating one of the doctors for a (very) short period.

And- of course – it also wasn’t long before I started getting awards for the large amount of donations I had made… culminating in a very swish affair down in Covent Garrden, where I was presented with a crystal goblet for donating a stupid amount.  That goblet takes pride of place in a cardboard box, somewhere up in the loft.

But circumstances change and suddenly I found myself having less time to attend.

On top of that, the skin tissue on my left arm started to exhibit bad scarring from having had so many needles pushed into the vein – I looked a bit like a junkie!  And also, the vein itself was starting to cause me grief – giving me pain whilst the needle was in there.

And so I cut back.

I reverted back to giving whole blood, just five times a year.

But with time still being a major constraint for me, that slowly dwindled.  I now give only once or twice a year.

And I feel bad about it. I feel bad because I feel I should be doing more. I know that it is a service that is reliant on volunteers and – as a volunteer – I don’t think I’m doing enough anymore.

The Blood Donor people are forever contacting me to try and persuade me to donate. I receive letters from them (several a month) and text messages.

And they call me. On the phone.  I recognise their number now and I’ve taken to not answering it, when they ring, because even though they ask ever-so-politely, I feel pressured into donating. I decline their call, and I feel bad about it.

Why? Why should I feel bad?  I’ve given over 34 gallons of blood and platelets over the years, so why do I feel guilty about “not doing my bit”?

Is it a ‘British’ thing, or just me?

The Office

The very first time I saw The Office, on BBC2, I watched it for about 60 seconds and then dismissed it as a documentary that I wasn’t really interested in.

The next time, was when I was working nights up in Glasgow and needed something to entertain me during the day. One of my work colleagues brought in the boxset for me to watch.

Just two episodes in and I was hooked.  I think I watched both series in just a couple of days.

The brilliance of the writing and the low-key acting of the cast, was like nothing I’d seen before.

I knew that an American version had been made – seen it in the Netflix EPG – but never got round to bothering with it.  American remakes of British shows have never been as good as the original, in my opinion.

However, I was looking for a new boxset and it was recommended to me to watch. Annoyingly, just as I decided it was time to give it a go, Netflix removed it. D’oh!

But now, it’s showing on Amazon. Hooray!

And I’ve now nearly finished the second series (there are nine seasons of the American version).

So, how does it compare with the original?

Not as good.

Don’t get me wrong: I like it and I’ll definitely watch all 9 seasons, but for me, it doesn’t have that mockumentary realism that the original had – so real, it fooled me, first time round! Although the American version follows its British counterpart pretty faithfully (so far) and is filmed in a mockumentary style, to me it feels more like a sitcom. The characters are that bit more outlandish (especially the manager Michael Scott-  played by the brilliant Steve Carrel – and his assistant Dwight, but maybe that is what is needed for it to be a success in America… there’s no doubt that there is a mildly different sense of humour on each side of the Atlantic.

Steve Carrel’s character makes me laugh, whereas Gervais’ makes me laugh and cringe and it’s it’s that British cringiness  – that Basil Fawlty also did so well – that clinches it for me.

But I’d be interested to hear your thoughts… if you have any.

Bird seed

Last year, for my birthday, Mrs Masher and the kids got me some nice vouchers.

For Millets.

Other outdoorsy -type shops are available… which is just as well, because I love outdoorsy-type shops and often spend far too much time and money in them.

Jackets!   God, I love an outdoorsy jacket.

Or coat.

My wardrobe is full of ’em.

Having to walk a dog in all weathers is a damn good excuse for having as many as I do.

But, I had forgotten I had these vouchers, and so Mrs M dragged me to the nearest store – in Hemel Hempstead – yesterday afternoon, where they had a Closing Down Sale.

As, sadly, most of them seem to have nowadays.

I spent the vouchers on a few shirts and some new gloves.

And a jacket, of course.

And then we went to a little café for a late lunch.

It’s not often that Mrs M and I get to spend ‘quality’ time together nowadays, so that little shopping spree and a bite to eat, was actually really nice.

We must do it more often, before all the outdoorsy-type shops close down.

Defeated

Today’s post was to be a tale of triumph over adversity.

A story of how, yesterday, ingenuity overcame complications and obstacles.

Of how ability, inventiveness, knowledge and maybe even cunning, won the day.

It was to be an account of how one man overcame a set of challenges,  placed to hinder, impede and, ultimately, prevent him from reaching his goal.

With pictures.

But, it was very windy, so I didn’t bother putting the aerial up, in the end.

Changing times

This is a picture of the inside of our fridge, at work.

Where once it was filled with lovely cow-juice, it is now slowly filling with ‘milks’ from oats and nuts.

I have no idea how you milk a nut, but I’ll let you make your own jokes on that one.

Veganism seems to have become suddenly trendy and I know several people who have converted to it.

As an animal lover, must say that I agree with it in principle and would possibly do the same.

Were it not for the sausage and egg sandwich.

With brown sauce.

That’s the problem with animals… they just taste so good!

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