Father’s Day

Father’s Day this year passed off without seeing my daughter and with seeing my son off at the airport on his way back to Berlin. My daughter usually gives me a card like this year’s card and always manages to write warm words about how wonderful a dad I am. Thank you, kid. On the way to the airport I reminded my son that it was Father’s Day. “Happy Father’s Day, Dad”, he said! Ever since he’s been living in Berlin he hasn’t been doing cards – birthdays, Christmas, Father’s Day, Mother’s Day. That’s OK, son…..

Several decades ago I made a decision that Mother/Father’s Day cards were a marketing thing by the card industry and that I would stop sending a card to my mother. I seem to recall this didn’t go down well with my mum and I reverted to going with the flow in subsequent years.

Not David Hockney

I have a copy of a David Hockney painting, “Red pots in the garden”. My latest project as not an artist was to paint it – see below for Hockney’s original. I’m OK with my effort and I enjoyed doing it. You can see my development / non-development at https://thingschange.blog/not-an-artist/

In the style of David Hockney
Red pots in the garden, by David Hockney

Cable guy

Three months before I was due to leave home and embark on college life in Middlesbrough, I took a temporary job in a cable factory at Eastleigh, near Southampton. The job was a clerical one and my office was to be a small, blue shed inside the factory. My task was to deal with a huge backlog of paperwork relating to goods received and issued. I had to enter the details of each movement into an appropriate page in an appropriate ledger. What a nightmare! A vast number of screws, nails, nuts and bolts, in a multitude of sizes and type. More often than not the description in the paperwork was insufficient to correctly identify the appropriate item in the ledgers. Having exhausted the patience of my supervisor with my numerous requests for help, I ended up making educated guesses. I’m sure the resulting records were hopelessly inaccurate. The records for the cables themselves were easier to match up and thus probably more reliable, though I do vaguely recall doing a stocktake of the large reels of cables and discovering mismatches between the records and the reality.

While working at the factory I met my first girlfriend (if I exclude SW at infants/junior school!). M used the perfume Memoir Cherie – I sometimes think I can still sense the smell, decades later. We would catch the train (steam?) into Southampton and in those days carriages had corridors, and compartments with blinds. Taking M home there wasn’t much light in the compartment as the train passed through a long tunnel leaving Southampton station, and it was there that the delights of innocent snogging began. M was to cause me much heartache as we attempted, and failed, to continue a relationship when I went off to college. The Beatles’ song Hello, Goodbye always triggers memory of the break-up meeting, just before Christmas. <sobbing>

I had my first pint in a pub. I think it was probably the day I had an interview for the job. Fish and chips and peas, and a pint at the Railway Inn (?). Happy days.

Kitchen window view (approx)

Another dead afternoon so why not have another go at not being an artist? Here is my preparation – note the image on the laptop as it’s my kitchen window and is my intended subject. I’m not happy with my effort, but that’s no big deal. It’s the taking part that’s important, eh? My non-progress can be seen on the page NotAnArtist.

Writing without structure

It’s been a little while since I last wrote a blog post – life has been a bit dull (apart from Chloe reaching 7 years!). In a blog I follow, an artist accompanies his fine sketches with a stream of text. There’s punctuation and word spacing but no paragraphs or blank lines. I wonder whether this ignoring of normal formatting might be a way to overcome the difficulties I have putting down my thoughts. So here goes. Instead of an artist’s drawing, an image taken this morning on a walk around the local park. Using a phone app that takes images in raw format there’s a noticeable improvement on the over-sharpened images of the default app. Of course it’s necessary to process raw images before they can be used, but I’m in control of how the image looks rather than leaving it to the default camera app. Yesterday was a typical Saturday – the papers, the bakery. A coffee in the gardens of a new vegan / vegetarian café was disappointing – a latte was nowhere near hot enough and our reticence in not complaining was something we regretted. Entertainment was provided by the couple whose dog lead got tangled in their table, bringing plates, cups and saucers crashing and smashing to the ground. Embarrassing! We’d visit the café again if only because on a nice sunny it’s so nice to sit outside with a drink and reading the papers. In the evening we watched the first episode of a re-run of series-1 of The Killing. Great stuff – 19 episodes to go and all available on streaming for binge watching at our leisure.

Sleep cycle

My son put me on to an app for monitoring sleep patterns. You put your phone next to your bed at night and the app listens out for noises and decides what the noises mean. It can sense the sound of your breathing and movements and from this decide whether you are awake, asleep, in deep sleep, snoring, talking.

These are my 6 days of using the app. The sleep patterns are all over the place and I couldn’t see a relationship between the patterns and how well I felt I had slept. Also, I suspect that the awake peaks in the middle of of the night are my wife going to the loo! I’m not sure how the app can work when there are two people in close proximity to the phone. With the app draining the battery 50% or more, my curiosity is exhausted and I’ve deleted it – at no cost.

My first Python code

For a challenge I’ve tried to teach myself the Python programming language. It’s a big language with many features which I, as an ex-programmer from many decades ago, am unfamiliar with. But I’ve managed to write and test the code below, though I’m not sure I want to take this much further. I’ll see…..

import csv
from datetime import datetime
from operator import attrgetter
# A re-creation of my Reminder program from several decades ago!! My first Python program!
# Version 0.1 04-Mar-2021 In the beginning
# Version 0.2 07-Mar-2021 In the beginning 
# Version 0.3 07-Mar-2021 I'm finally happy!
class Reminder:
    def __init__(self, myRec):
        self.Date = myRec[0]
        self.DateTimeConversion = datetime.strptime(myRec[0],"%d-%b-%Y")
        self.Message = myRec[1]
# Function GetReminderData to get the reminder data
# Read each record in the file
# Ignore any blank lines 
# Add each record to the list myReminders
def GetReminderData(myFile,myReminders) :
    with open(myFile) as csv_file:
        csv_reader = csv.reader(csv_file, delimiter=',')
        line_count = 0
        for rec in csv_reader:
            if rec == []:
                line_count += 1
                p = Reminder(rec)
# Function HowManyDaysDifference to get the number of days between today's date and a text date
# This is my weird code - what a palaver!
def HowManyDaysDifference(TextDate):
    today_object = datetime.now()
    mydate_in_datetime = datetime.strptime(TextDate,"%d-%b-%Y")
    tdiff = mydate_in_datetime - today_object
    diff_in_days = tdiff.days
    if diff_in_days >= 0:
        diff_in_days += 1
        tdiff = today_object - mydate_in_datetime
        diff_in_days = -tdiff.days
    return diff_in_days
# Function PrintList to nicely print the data
def PrintList ():
    mySectionSeparator = "-" * 75
    tChange = True
    print ("\n" * 10 )
    print ("         Welcome to my Python Reminder program!")
    print (mySectionSeparator)
    for i in sorted(myReminders, key = attrgetter('DateTimeConversion')):
        nDays = HowManyDaysDifference(i.Date)
        if tChange and nDays > 0:
            tChange = False
            print (mySectionSeparator)
        if nDays == 0:
            t1 = "     Today    "
        elif nDays == -1:
            t1 = "   Yesterday  "
        elif nDays == 1:
            t1 = "    Tomorrow  "
        elif nDays < 0:
            t1 = '{:4d}'.format(-nDays) + " days since"
            t1 = '{:4d}'.format(nDays) + " days until"
        t2 = i.Date +t1
        print (t2,i.Message) 
    print (mySectionSeparator)
# This is the MAIN  program
myFile = 'C:/Users/Mike/Documents/Documents/MyPythonCode/Reminder.dat'

myReminders = []

GetReminderData(myFile, myReminders)


And the output is….

Not an artist

What have I talked myself into? I casually suggested to my daughter that on a Zoom call I could do some painting with the little ones. So I invested in some gear, and here is my studio setup. My daughter suggested acrylic paints but I did find it all a bit fiddly squeezing bits out of tubes – oh for a paintbox! I think I’ve verified my opinion that I have no artistic skills as well as no shame, but early days, eh! If nothing comes of it I can pass on my materials to Chloe and Iris.

First review from the little ones:

“Iris said “wow!”…Chloe observed that you’d paid attention to that video you’d watched! And she wants to know where’s your next one!”

See my progress here….

Losing one’s way

With lots of Photoshopping I can knock off maybe 20 years, though my son’s first reaction was “That looks very odd!”. Well, son, that’s what I intended, so there!

Walking south and uphill there was still a fair amount of snow to be found on today’s shortish walk.

A couple of days ago I did a longer walk in the same area. Then, in much worse conditions, I managed to become quite disorientated. Today’s walk was to figure out how I’d managed to end up where I had – which I managed to do. When the conditions are poor and everything’s covered in snow, and when you’re not paying sufficient attention to your surroundings, it’s quite easy to lose track of one’s location – despite having, as I did, the Ordnance Survey map app and GPS on the phone! Just as well I was in North Surrey and not North Wales…